NEW YORK, N.Y.—Veteran nurse Sybilla Daniel Douglas has one wish for New Yorkers.
“I just want everybody to get vaccinated,” she told LaborPress. “Vaccination saves lives. A lot of people are depending on herd immunity, but we don’t have enough people vaccinated.”
Daniel Douglas, a member of the 1199SEIU health-care workers’ union, has been a registered nurse at Brooklyn’s Brookdale Hospital for 30 years, the last 20 of them at the hospital’s outpatient and family-care clinic in the East New York neighborhood.
“We have pediatric patients who’ve grown up, and now their children are coming in,” she says.
The situation when the COVID-19 pandemic hit was “very scary,” she says. No one knew much about the novel disease. “During the initial stage, people weren’t wearing masks, because they didn’t know it was airborne,” she recalls.
Brookdale and its clinics had a shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks, and hospitals were overwhelmed. Patients couldn’t come to the clinic, so “when they would call, they were very sick at home,” she remembers. “We’d call the ambulance, and they were told the hospital was so crowded, they’d be better off at home.”
“Thank God we’ve learned how to treat it,” she continues. She credits people wearing masks, washing their hands, social distancing, and eventually, the COVID-19 vaccine.
People in the neighborhood were “initially a little hesitant” about the vaccine, she says, but that’s faded. She grew up in Brooklyn and now lives on Long Island, raising three daughters along the way, and says her longevity in the community means people trust her word.
With the vaccine, the clinic is gradually going back to normal. Patients are resuming in-person visits, although they alternate those with telemedicine, as the clinic’s capacity is limited by social distancing. “We try to space out visits,” she says.
One priority now, Daniel Douglas adds, is bringing in children who missed getting the vaccines they would have normally received during the past year, such as for polio, chicken pox, and measles, mumps, and rubella. She also hopes that the clinic will begin vaccinating people, instead of having to refer them to Brookdale.
Still, she emphasizes that the virus has not gone away. “I worry that people will become a little too relaxed and stop wearing masks,” she says. “I hope that more people become vaccinated so we don’t see another surge.”