Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal

“The best part of my job is everything. My job is absolutely rewarding. At the end of the day, I know that I have done the best that I can. It has its ups and downs like all jobs, but it is the best. For every single person I ever come into contact with, I do everything I can to my ability, every single day.”

— Kim Kalwasinski, 57, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“When we had our first patient successfully come off the ventilator and be able to talk to us again, that was kind of reassuring, like we’re making a step towards some progress. I think now a little bit of ease has stepped into the unit. It’s still scary.”

— Mandy Holder, 25, Memphis, Tenn.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“There’s stigmatization of healthcare workers in the community. I think we’ve come a long way from the hysteria, and the heightened fear, and the anxiety about the infection spread. But for the healthcare workers, obviously like myself, going to a grocery store in scrubs, there’s this fear.”

— Linet Ngete, 39, Seattle, Wash.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“We’ve had a couple of patients that have died without family, and nurses have been in there with them, playing music for them—sometimes spiritual music, you know, anything so that they don’t die alone.”

— Stacy Cail, 45, Olive Branch, Miss.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“I’m in a position where I can’t visit my parents because they’re older and they fit the demographic of people that are extremely high-risk of getting Covid and dying from it. I work with Covid patients everyday and I don’t want to be that person that brings this home to them.”

— Gonzalo Saavedra, 37, Seattle, Wash.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“I’ve been able to share in some really fun, meaningful, wonderful experiences with my patients. And then in the same breath, had to deal with some really difficult, difficult situations with patients. And sometimes it’s the same patient.”

— Page Oetzel, 43, Memphis, Tenn.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“These people are in a room by themselves and they’re not just isolated from a standpoint of a disease, but they’re isolated socially. And that plays a factor in your health. So you become empathetic to that. And that’s just a new way of treating the patient.”

— Drew Cutliff, 45, Memphis, Tenn.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“We do see a lot of people, especially the pregnant people, who are having a lot of anxiety about having to go to the hospital if they have to give birth and then not being able to have their support team with them.”

— Nikia Grayson, 44, Memphis, Tenn.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered as a nurse, but I’m still there for my patients. I will always be there for my patients, regardless of what’s going on in any situation. We can give them a fighting chance as long as we’re there for them.”

— Lillian Dunn, 33, Seattle, Wash.

Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal

“One of the things that has shocked me is the outpouring of support. Not just from my own family, but from complete strangers. People I don’t even know have sent me care packages. People that have just heard what I was doing.”

— Maria Lobifaro, 34, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal

“Since Covid, we are all a little bit nervous. It’s a bit hectic. But now we are getting accustomed. The first couple of weeks were something else, but now we have adapted. I’ve really learned to have an open mind. We have to all be more flexible.”

— Vikki Bakakos, 41, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“That’s been the hardest part, knowing that some people are dying without their family. I won’t say alone because I’m sure a compassionate nurse probably held her hand. I’m sure she had some love and passion in the end, just not from her mother who wanted so desperately to be there.”

— Patricia Ford, 48, Memphis, Tenn.

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“I have been afraid of Covid. I don’t know why. I’ve probably been pretty exposed forever. It’s something scary. But I have to think about it like this: If my family number was up there, I want someone to take care of them.”

— Victoria Muhammad, 49, Memphis, Tenn.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“You just spend a little longer time in the room because sometimes those Covid patients, that’s all they’ve got, is the nurse inside that room. They don’t get to interact with people…To just make that eye contact and be there a little bit longer for them, means a lot to me and to the patient.”

— Arjayne Evangelisa, 28, Seattle, Wash.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“I have a newfound respect for the epidemiology and public health department. I think here in Seattle, they nailed it. They got it right. We’re so fortunate that our business leaders and politicians listened to them.”

— Charles Mitchell, 63, Seattle, Wash.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“Your patients, it doesn’t matter if they’re a CEO or a homeless person, they all matter the same. You’ve really got to be understanding of everyone’s point of view on it.”

— Joe Marek, 28, Seattle, Wash.

Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal

“I’m here because of Covid-19. I was just looking for an opportunity to help. There have been a lot of tragic and horrible things, but it has also shed a light on healthcare workers, and maybe some of the struggles with the healthcare system.”

— Kelly Alilio, 42, Brooklyn, N.Y., from Baltimore

Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

“Am I nervous? Am I constantly going over things? I’m not going to lie and not say these don’t cross my mind a million times a day. But this is why we’re here. You take a responsibility and accountability and obligation to take care of patients when they’re sick. This is why we’re nurses.”

— Ashley Barr, 40, Memphis, Tenn.

Jovelle Tamayo for The Wall Street Journal

“It’s about compassion and the emotion you’re going to bring to the patient. They’re not just another person. You have to treat them as family. And that’s the real meaning of being a nurse. You have to nurse them and love them as if they were your own.”

— Christine Aguasin, 45, Seattle, Wash.

Brooklyn Hospital Center workers step outside to accept applause from neighbors who gathered at 7:00 p.m. to cheer them on. Sarah Blesener for The Wall Street Journal

Produced by Meghan Petersen and Ariel Zambelich.

Photographs and reporting by Sarah Blesener in New York, Andrea Morales in Tennessee, and Jovelle Tamayo in Washington.

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