When COVID first hit in March 2020, it hit hard and fast in the hospitals and nursing homes. No one was prepared for the viciousness of this attack- how can you prepare for something you can’t see coming and know little about? The aggressiveness of this virus was astounding and the devastation it left in its wake is still felt over a year later. When our kids would describe their heroes, they usually speak of wearing a cape; or perhaps a jersey, like so many professional athletes do. If there is one thing that COVID taught us, it is that our heroes are right in front of us. As a New Yorker, you may have come together nightly in the 7 P.M. cheer for the first responders and healthcare workers, loudly and proudly acknowledging your thanks for putting their lives on the line every day just doing their job. Nurses were probably on the forefront of everyone’s mind during those few minutes, but for me, I couldn’t help but think of the Theradynamics’ team of rehabilitation therapists and staff battling it out in the nursing homes.
There were many different struggles that our therapists had to face, with so many questions that started with ‘what if’, knowing that no one could provide satisfactory answers. There was a sense of isolation from being gowned, gloved and masked up, protecting you from a virus that had proven to be deadly, but also prevented that important sensory of touch and feel- from your patients and from each other. You could never before imagine the positive impact that a hug, the touch of the hand, or even a smile has on someone until it’s taken away. This fear and anxiety created a stressful environment, but it also strengthened the bonds of teamwork, relying on each other to get through one tough day after another. In speaking directly with some of our therapists who remained a constant presence throughout this traumatizing experience, it was the sense of contributing, of making a difference in both their patients’ and co-workers’ lives that kept them moving forward. They were depended on, needed, deemed essential – that is what motivated them to get up each morning and come to work.
COVID changed many things, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of our rehabilitative staff. They had to come up with creative ideas to treat patients in their rooms, motivate them to participate in therapy, and encourage patients to meet their goals. Therapists also served as surrogate family and friends for their patients when the nursing homes were closed for visitation. Even during some of the darkest days, these therapists had to be cheerleaders- to convince their patients that they can never give up and the importance of continuing to try. When there was time to rest, which was not often enough, they counted their blessings, they celebrated, and they took the time to enjoy the little moments. I saw it in the countless pictures and videos that were shared; I saw it in how they danced, how they sang and how they cried. I couldn’t see their smiles, but I knew they were there. That is what embodies Theradynamics’ physical, occupational, and speech therapists and assistants, transporters, and rehab aides- not just in their skills as clinicians, or strong sense of compassion, but in their ability to always be positive. To know that the sun will always come out again, even during great sadness, which many experienced during this time both personally and professionally. We will always remember with love Theradynamics’ superhero, Froilan Magallanes, PTA.
The Theradynamics’ therapy staff were heroes to their patients, to their families, to each other, and certainly to me. I am amazed at their dedication and proud to know them.
Mary Long, MSPT, RAC-CT