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Selfie of nurses and doctors during COVID-19 for nurse appreciation week at United Hebrew

Nurse Appreciation Week: Spotlight on Jennifer Tan

Happy Nurse Appreciation Week to all of the nurses at United Hebrew of New Rochelle! Jennifer Tan is just one of the dedicated health care workers at our skilled nursing and assisted living facilities who are on the front line of this pandemic. These courageous men and women leave their families each day to selflessly provide essential care for our most vulnerable citizens. Thank you to our heroic staff for what you do each day to provide compassionate care to our residents.

Jennifer Tan hasn’t kissed or hugged her two young children, her husband, or her mother-in-law since March 6, when United Hebrew diagnosed its first COVID-19 positive resident. After each 12-hour shift at United Hebrew, she goes home, showers and changes her clothes, then greets her family keeping a social distance of six feet. She also sleeps in isolation.

Tan is our Chief Nursing Officer, and in that role she oversees 300 staff nurses, including her sister, Mariella Fay, who supervises the facility’s COVID Treatment & Recovery Unit.

It’s been a difficult 8 weeks.

“There hasn’t been a day at home that I haven’t gone into the bathroom and cried,” says Tan. “I am scared of bringing the virus home. But I feel very strongly that I need to be here for my staff; that I have to be a good leader, and I have to fight this fight alongside my line nurses. We all need to be strong and vigilant together.”

Tan says she received news of the “index patient” — United Hebrew’s first case of the coronavirus — after hours. Along with the rest of the leadership team, she returned to work and stayed until 1 a.m. drawing up plans to test and treat residents who might be diagnosed with the virus, and to educate staff on what they needed to know to safeguard themselves and the seniors in their care.

From the very first moment, she has gone above and beyond, spending countless hours on staff education in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the nursing home. Ongoing training has been critical in this fast-moving health crisis, she says.

“The staff needs to feel safe working here, and they need to feel confident that they are protecting their seniors.”

There was a lot for the staff to learn at first: how to properly wear gowns, masks, N95 masks and face shields; how to integrate their knowledge of infection control with this highly transmittable disease. It took a lot of extra time.

“It’s like training soldiers. In a controlled demonstration, they can show what they should do. But in a real battle, they may panic. So we had to provide intensive, hands-on support to all of our nurses,” Tan explained.

She led the transition of United Hebrew’s short-term rehabilitation unit into a COVID Treatment and Recovery unit. To date, United Hebrew has discharged 26 patients from that unit back to their rooms or homes in the community. She was joyful on the day they discharged their first patient, a 94-year-old long-time resident at United Hebrew. But she was modest when asked about the heroic nature of her work.

“That was a huge lift in everyone’s spirits. Just knowing that all of the hours we were putting in were making a difference. Knowing that she’s alive and kicking at age 94 – it really helps us to keep going.”

If you would like to thank a nurse on our staff, send a note via email: UHheroes@uhgc.org or snail mail: Administration, United Hebrew of New Rochelle, 391 Pelham Road, New Rochelle, NY 10805.