As a speech and hearing assistant at North Shore University Hospital, SJC Brooklyn student Noelia Frischeisen ends each shift with a visit to the newborns in a coronavirus isolation room.
The tiny babies in this room were born to mothers who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). They may not have it, but the infants stay in a special isolation crib during testing, just to make sure.
“Those are the last babies we check, so there’s no cross-contamination with other babies,” said Frischeisen, a senior speech communication major who conducts hearing screenings on newborns at the Northwell-owned Manhasset hospital.
Every time she visits the infants in the isolation room, Frischeisen goes in head-to-toe in protective gear: N95 mask, surgical mask, goggles, protective footwear, gown and surgical hat.
Frischeisen said she and her colleagues are administering the testing on babies sooner than usual because of new regulations put in place for the coronavirus.
“We usually do it the day after they are born, but because of new regulations at the hospital, newborn babies are being discharged a day sooner,” added Frischeisen, who started her post two months ago.
Frischeisen, scheduled to graduate in May, said she never would have guessed that accepting the job offer also meant taking a hands-on role in a hospital during the coronavirus pandemic. But she was up to the challenge.
Frischeisen uses a machine with a tiny probe attached to it to perform an otoacoustic emission test. She explained that the machine emits sounds into the ear and sends back an echo that shows that the baby is hearing correctly.
Frischeisen said her speech communication professors and mentors at SJC Brooklyn — including Rosemarie Hamlin, associate chair of the communication studies department — were especially helpful in preparing her for the challenges of working in a hospital during the coronavirus.
“They taught me everything about audiology, and how to use oto-check machines and perform hearing screenings,” said Frischeisen, president of SJC Brooklyn’s speech club, NSSHLA. “I felt prepared when I started the job … Even now if I ever have a question, I can email my professors about whatever I need and they will quickly answer.”
This story is part of OnCampus’ “Answering the Call” series, calling attention to St. Joseph’s College students and alumni working outside their homes in essential jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.