Inspiring stories from the staff of NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital Living High in Lower Manhattan Issue 30 The Essentials 2020
New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Frontline Workers Stand Between COVID-19 and the City We Love
“Never bet against New York. This town always comes back—stronger than ever.” LARRY A. SILVERSTEIN CHAIRMAN, SILVERSTEIN PROPERTIES
Brookfield Properties is grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff of NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital and all of New York City’s essential workers for their tireless work and sacrifice to keep New Yorkers and our City safe. We are a proud supporter of NYP’s Healthcare Workers Fund and other important initiatives to assist in New York’s response and recovery.
Photo: Ian Douglas
Poems form in the space we make for them. Sometimes a few words rattle around our minds, with only the faintest context to give them shape. Sometimes there is a fleeting image we want to imprint — we want it to stay with us a little longer. If we sit with the image, we can watch it come into focus — we can take hold of the words, we write them down and watch the poem take its shape. Experience Asiya Wadud’s ECHO EXHIBIT in the Seaport District as part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s annual summer festival, River To River.
Learn more at SeaportDistrict.NYC Co-presented with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) as part of River To River 2020
The Seaport District thanks the staff of NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital for all they do in our community.
09 10 12 13 14
From the Editor in Chief From the Founder From the Advisory Board Chair Contributors In Memoriam: Laurean Enrique Ossorio
16 18 20 21 22 24 28
The Finest: A Time to Bond The Best: Answering the Call The Strongest: Clean Living The Movers: Underground Hero The Morale Boosters: Life Force The Neighbors: Tough, Strong, United, Disciplined, Loving Voices of Change
CULTURE 30 33 40 43
Viewfinder: Sleeping Giant Savoir Fare: Comfort Food Savoir Fare: Feeding Downtown Summer Sips: Cin Cin!
LITTLE APPLE 44
FEATURES 47 68 74
The Fronliners The Helpers The Makers
EN VOGUE 80 82 83
Timeless Beauty: Mask-querade Beauty: Saving Face Fitness: The Journey Inside
LAST WORD: Black Lives Matter, photographed by Clay Benskins
ON THE COVER: The Fronliners: The staff of NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital, photographed in the Seaport District, by Andrew Matusik.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHIDI NOBI (THIS PAGE). OPPOSITE; ANDREW MATUSIK (FRONTLINERS); CLAY BENSKIN (BLACK LIVES MATTER).
Deborah L. Martin Editor in Chief
Creative Team Glyph.NYC Associate Editor Daniel Metz Fashion Editor Annaël Assouline Food Editor Fernanda Mueller Fitness Editor Kirk Meyers Music Editor Alice Teeple Editor at Large Mike Hammer Multimedia Director Eddy Garay Contributing Family & Lifestyle Editor Mary Wassner Pet Editor Jason Zafarana
Clay Benskins Noemi Florea Felicity Flores Drew Mike Hammer Andrew Matusik Mary McGowan Kirit Prajapati Jamilah Rosemond Spencer Sanchez
Bradley Kirkland/Stone Soup Romeo Marra/Entirely Digital
BUSINESS Grace A. Capobianco
Chief Executive Officer/Publisher Executive Vice President John ‘Cap’ Capobianco Executive Publisher, South Florida Will Candis Chief Financial Officer Jeff Fields Chief Operations Officer Luigi Rosabianca Advisor To the Publisher Andy Wheatcroft Finance & Tax Consultant Meir Spear, CPA
Downtown Media & Production Inc. downtownmagazinenyc.com 8
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRIT PRAJAPATI
Copyright 2020 by Downtown Media & Production Inc. All rights reserved. Downtown (ISSN2164-6198) is published four times per year in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter for $39 per subscription by Downtown Media & Production Inc., 380 Rector Place, Suite 15F, New York, NY 10280. Application to mail at periodical postage rates is pending at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Downtown, 380 Rector Place, Suite 15F, New York, NY 10280. Reproduction without permission of the publisher is prohibited. The publisher and editor are not responsible for unsolicited material. Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, photographs and drawings. To order a subscription, please visit downtownmagazinenyc.com. For customer service, please inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org. To distribute Downtown, please email email@example.com
LOVE IS ALL
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW MATUSIK.
I REMEMBER A STORY in Life Magazine when I was a kid, about an experiment that behavioral scientists performed with Rhesus monkey babies. In one part of the experiment, they separated the infants from their mothers and put them in a room with two mannequins, one a wire frame with a bottle, and the other covered in comforting terry cloth but with no food. The babies overwhelmingly chose the soft comfort of the terry cloth, even though they were hungry. The image of those little monkeys clinging to their terrycloth “mama,” sticks with me to this day. As it turns out, that famous—and famously controversial—experiment was performed by Harry Harlow at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950s and 60s, and it revolutionized everything we believed about child psychology up until that point. In a nutshell, it made clear that love is critical to survival. It isn’t enough to have food and water and shelter. Up until the point of that experiment, children in orphanages frequently did not survive because they had no one to show them affection, no warm beating heart to snuggle against, no strong arms to embrace them. With no sign of affection anywhere, they withered and died. When children were hospitalized, their parents were not allowed to comfort and hold them because it was believed that if a parent responded to a child’s cries with affection and warmth, it would produce dependent, non-functioning adults. After Harlow’s study was published, everything changed. Humans are undeniably complex. For most of our existence we believed that we were the only species on this vast, teeming planet who felt joy and sorrow, and that even the juveniles of our own species were not capable of having valid emotions. Frankly, I think what really sets us apart is hubris. Of course, we now know that all manner of diverse species feel a wide range of emotions, including empathy, and yet, our superiority complex stays with us still. It is partly our hubris that helps us survive catastrophe. We swagger around, chests puffed, hands on our hips, saying things like, “We’ve GOT this.” That can be a good thing. It takes courage and a healthy dose of adrenaline to get through catastrophe. You have to believe in your own power to get you through the hard times. And these are hard times. As I write this, over 160,000 Americans have been lost to COVID-19. In a matter of a few months, this virus has changed life as we know it, both here in our beloved downtown community as well as in every corner of the globe. To meet the challenge of this crisis we have been asked to do our civic duty by staying home, maintaining physical distance, foregoing traditional celebrations, gatherings, and daily routines, and wearing masks. But as crises often do, COVID-19 has placed certain facts in high relief. It has revealed something about privilege and need in our society. It has redefined who is essential to a comfortable life as we know it, and that list includes healthcare workers, first responders, transit employees, grocers, delivery people, mail carriers, chefs and restaurant workers, home healthcare workers, pharmacists, sanitation workers, and so many more who don’t have the luxury of staying home. On the heels of COVID-19, another kind of epidemic has amplified the disparity in our society. The racism that some Americans live with every single day has become even more intolerable against the backdrop of a disease that disproportionately affects BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more, people everywhere are finally waking up to the fact that it is no longer good enough to espouse catchy slogans and wear supportive t-shirts. Real change must begin with a committment to challenging ingrained habits and having difficult conversations about race, equity, and justice.And then following that with a renewed dedication to creating space for all voices to be heard. Real change must be won at the ballot box, on the streets, and in the boardrooms.
This is all connected. The baby Rhesus monkeys chose a warm embrace. Children in orphanages died for lack of love. During protests across the country, an organization called Wall of Moms stepped in to protect peaceful protestors from federal troops, because nothing is stronger than a mother’s love. George Floyd, in his final moments, called for his mama. We have been prevented—because of a microscopic viral death machine—from enjoying the warm embrace of the people we love. We have witnessed pain, violence, and tragedy—on the news and in front of us, in our neighborhoods and in our homes. Our loss is incalculable, our grief spills over. We are a nation suffering from PTSD, and it is hard to see a way out. But make no mistake, there is a way out. Congressman John Lewis, who passed away on July 17, sent an essay to the New York Times, to be published on the day of his funeral. Having lived through his own trauma as he became the conscience of this nation, he had the perfect words to guide us through this current trauma. “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So, I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” Everlasting love. Amen to that.
Deborah L. Martin Editor in Chief
Follow me on Instagram @debmartinnyc and on downtownmagazinenyc.com
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
Grace A. Capobianco
CEO and Founder
and masks to pack our purchases, while we shopped online. After careful consideration and discussion with our Editor in Chief Deb Martin, Associate Editor Dan Metz, lead photographer Andrew Matusik, and our creative team GLYPH, they were all onboard without even blinking an eye. Next question, how do we pay for this issue? We can’t possibly ask brands who are not even working full time, and who had to furlough their teams and possibly give up their offices to pay for advertising. While we can all work for the minimum, the printer and the US Postal Service will not work for free. Instead, we asked for support from clients by donating a page with a special message to the very people who take care of them all the time, and especially during COVID. I must acknowledge New York Presbyterian Hospital, Goldman Sachs, Howard Hughes Seaport, Brookfield Properties, Downtown Alliance, and Silverstein Properties, for their sponsored special message pages. Without you we could not put this issue out and have copies for those featured. You are our unsung heroes. In closing, thank you profusely, to all who helped make this issue happen, and to those who put their lives at risk each and every day during this pandemic. Downtown magazine believes in diversity, equal pay, and equal rights. We believe in giving back, and giving a second chance to those who may have made mistakes. We believe that our country is good at its core, and that we will one day soon have a vaccine. And we believe that downtown New York City, and New York as a whole will get through this dark time and come out even stronger than before. We must stop the violence and hatred, and come together, New York Strong. Follow me on Instagram @graciedtm and on downtownmagazinenyc.com
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PHILLIPPE REYNAUD; HAIR BY DAVID COTTEBLANCHE; MAKEUP BY MARCIA BUSH; DRESS AND SHOES BY KAREN MILLEN; JEWELS BY BARBARA NOVAK.
COVID-19 HAS IMPACTED almost every facet of our lives. Not only is our health threatened, but in many ways, our way of life too. We know that Downtown magazine is a much-needed print brand for many in our community, and has been for over 11 years. So how do we create a magazine when the very city we love is in quarantine? These last six months have been some of the most challenging of our lifetime, but making this magazine is our duty. We had to move out of our office, furlough our core team, stay home but yet still pay our bills and stay in the world of publishing (or stay in business). We have all had days or even weeks where we were lost in our own fear, let's be honest with each other. Remembering to wear a mask when leaving the house, washing our hands so much that our skin dried out, finding the right disinfectant, learning to shop for food online, learning to live without our usual brands, getting up to speed on Zoom and setting up video chats in the right place in our small city apartments, and then hitting the right button while others online wait patiently. But none of this compares to those we have covered in this issue. How do we take care of our most vulnerable, our aging parents, those with underlying health conditions? Coping with hearing almost every day that someone you know just passed from COVID-19. These fears alone are enough to cause sleepless nights, and terrible grief. Knowing that giving of yourself is the best way to take the focus off of your own fears, I started looking for ways in which we could help give back to those—like our longtime client, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, to whom this issue is dedicated along with the many unsung heroes of 2020—who have supported not only our brand, but the community. Some may get upset when I use the term “heroes” but isn’t this exactly what they are? I heard comments such as, “they did their job, I don’t get called a hero when I do my job.” Yes, they did their job, showing up while we were all hunkered down in our homes binge watching tv, munching Talenti, learning how to cook, cleaning out closets, or making TikTok videos. Before your start picking up your pen to write a letter, consider Merriam-Webster’s definition of hero: “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage; the central figure in an event, period, or movement.” That defines each and every one of the people featured in this issue. To be honest with you, I sat on the sofa binge watching shows, I made new recipes, cleaned closets, and discovered TikTok. After about two weeks I asked myself, “what are you doing?” I needed to find a way to come out of this frozen, petrified reality, but I didn't know if it was appropriate to put an issue out during this time, nevermind the question of how to set up photography, pull fashion brands, or even talk about the next great night cream or mascara. We couldn’t do many of the things we would usually do to create a magazine. Instead, we dedicated the entire issue to those who stayed awake while we slept, went to work feeding the essential workers while we created new recipes, made masks rather than the newest dress or jacket while we perused old copies of fashion magazines, and wore gloves
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ADVISORY BOARD DARA MCQUILLAN Chairman of the Advisory Board Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Silverstein Properties, Inc.
Dara McQuillan stands in front of “The Roots,” a 52-foot mural by Black-Latinx artist Cristina Martinez, located on the 79th floor of 3 World Trade Center. The mural is a tribute to the empowerment of Black and Brown women.
DOWNTOWN FEELS DIFFERENT WITHOUT our neighbors, shoppers, visitors, and workers, but I love it all the same. Just like everywhere else in the country, many of my favorite cafes, restaurants and shops have struggled to reopen, and their staffs are furloughed or unemployed, which is heartbreaking. One of the things that makes downtown such a unique place is its many small businesses. They are a central part of the culture of lower Manhattan and have been from the time this island was first settled. They are the lifeblood for the tens of thousands of families living here, and for the hundreds of thousands of people who have grown accustomed to working here. A few months ago, Silverstein Properties partnered with Brookfield, the Howard Hughes Corporation and the Downtown Alliance to create a “Small Business Rental Assistance Grant” program, which offers immediate assistance to the local small
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
businesses that continue to provide vital services to residents and essential workers in lower Manhattan during the pandemic. The program gives downtown’s small businesses, restaurants, bars, and cafes immediate access to $800,000 in grants, which we hope will help them weather this painful time. Grace and Downtown magazine have done a terrific job spotlighting essential workers and small businesses that are making a difference in our neighborhood. Downtown’s businesses have been through a lot over the past two decades, but we are resilient, and I have no doubt that we will once again come back better and stronger than ever. Until that time, we need to stand together. Like many of you, I was staggered and outraged when I saw the video of George Floyd being murdered by police officers in Minneapolis in May. This taking of an innocent man’s life was so horrible to
witness, but I hope and pray it will lead to real and lasting change. What has happened in one form or another to members of the black community around this country is outrageous, and we can’t allow it to continue. America must come to grips with the racial injustices that have existed here for over 400 years. It’s time to right the wrongs, heal the wounds, and come together as a nation. I believe we can and will change in ways that reflect the attitudes that many Americans have embraced and are now coming out in strength to express. We must stand together and speak out on behalf of our families, friends, colleagues, and all those who have been the victims of murder, racism, and repression because of their skin color. We need to be supportive of each other, and bring Americans together again, because we’re a great nation that can accomplish incredible things when we commit to working together. It is time to unite as a country. DT
SAUL SCHERL Saul Scherl is President of the New York Tri-State Region at The Howard Hughes Corporation. Mr. Scherl has more than twenty years of experience in the realms of retail, residential, hospitality, and mixed-use real estate. MARINA PEREDO A board-certified dermatologist with over 25 years of experience, she has been labeled a “superdoctor” by The New York Times and a Top Doctor by Castle Connolly. Her practice, Skinfluence, is located in Manhattan. DREW NIEPORENT A renowned restaurateur, “The Mayor of Wall Street” opened his first downtown restaurant in the ’80s. Nieporent’s Myriad Restaurant Group includes the TriBeCa Grill and Nobu.
LUIGI ROSABIANCA Longtime downtown resident and founding board member, Rosabianca lends his expertise on a wide array of subjects including real estate, political affairs, and architectural history, and is a frequent editorial contributor.
ADVISORY BOARD CATHERINE MCVAY HUGHES Member of CB1 for 19 years, eight of those years its Chair, and for 13 years the Chair of CB1 World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee. Hughes has worked with agencies at the city, state, and federal levels.
RORY MCCREESH Rory McCreesh founded Duce Construction Corporation, specializing in designing and constructing high-end homes and apartments in Manhattan, Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey.
SAMANTHA COX Samantha Cox is Vice President, Creative, New York, at Broadcast Music, Inc. She also provides advice and supports myriad projects at the Center for Performing Arts at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.
LAURA FORESE Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian, as well as an orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Forese oversees a leading system in quality, safety, efficiency, and service.
FRANK CELENZA Dual-certified in Orthodontics and Periodontics, Celenza teaches post-graduate studies at institutions such as New York University and Rutgers. He has offices in New York City, Scarsdale, and New Jersey.
JEFF SIMMONS Executive Vice President of Anat Gerstein, Simmons has spent three decades in private and public sector communications, previously serving at the Alliance for Downtown New York.
CONTRIBUTORS ANDREW MATUSIK Matusik loves collaborating with talented stylists, models, and artists and is devoted to creating striking images through great composition and beautiful light. He has pursued his passions throughout his life and feels blessed to have been able to do so. For this issue, he photographed our Essentials, including the NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan staff on the cover, EMTs, the NYPD, Downtown Sanitation, and the MTA.
KIRIT PRAJAPATI A native of the Gujarat State in India, Prajapati is a self-taught photographer who never gets tired of shooting the iconic structures of New York City, especially at sunrise and sunset. He loves the mix of nature’s most beautiful moments with humanmade cityscapes. In 2013 his photo of the Empire State Building won the “My Empire State Building” contest. For this issue, Kirit photographed Lower Manhattan for Viewfinder on page 30, and for our Masthead.
NOEMI FLOREA Noemi Florea is a designer dedicated to advancing sustainability in the public’s systems, goods, and buildings. Her work ranges from public engagement by communicative design to the integration of healthy materials into public products and architecture. She wrote “Clean Living,” on page 20.
SPENCER SANCHEZ is 15 years old and attends the Young Women’s Leadership School in the Bronx. She is a Girl Be Heard Company Member, and she wrote “A Mere Formality of Living in America,” on page 28.
JAMILAH ROSEMOND is 19 years old and attends NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She is a Girl Be Heard Company Member, and she wrote “Educated, Articulate, and Black,” on page 28.
CLAY BENSKIN Benskin has a passion for street photography. For the past nine years he has been documenting the streets and people of New York City, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time Magazine. Clay has the “Last Word,” on page 84.
MARY MCGOWAN teaches classical Hatha Yoga privately in Downtown Manhattan, where she lives with her family and her dog. She wrote “The Journey Inside,” on page 83.
FELICITY FLORES DREW is 17 years old and will be attending Pace University in the fall. She is a Girl Be Heard Company Member, and she and she illustrated Voices of Change on page 28. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
TRIBUTE IN MEMORY OF LAUREAN ENRIQUE OSSORIO We were just finishing our Summer issue when we got a call that our beloved fashion editor and friend, Laurean Ossorio, had passed away. To say that the wind was knocked out of me would be an understatement, especially since I had spoken to him the previous day. If anyone had told me that we would be producing a Memoriam page for Laurean, I would never have believed it. What do you say about someone who rarely complained, worked hard, loved fashion, and had a heart of gold who always brought joy to the set and made us laugh long, deep belly laughs? We are at a complete loss. Whether we had 10 people on set or two he would always bring more clothing, jewelry, shoes, and bags than any other stylist, but he always had a vision for where each item could be used. “I always have options,” he would say. It was always true. Sometimes I would look at the things he selected and think they were completely outlandish, and somehow, he would always make it work. Everyone loved him. When planning our cover parties, we would have a list of about 150 people, and then Laurean would send the invite to his list and that number would suddenly be 250 The staff of Downtown will miss Laurean dearly, he was a joy to work with and to know. During this time of grief, we have all lost so much, and we have been prevented from finding solace in the company of our friends and loved ones. Our hearts and prayers go out to Laurean’s family and especially his mother, who brought such a beautiful soul into the world. I miss you so much already, and we will miss you forever.
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“In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.” —Elsa Schiaparelli
The Alliance for Downtown New York honors everyone who is keeping Lower Manhattan up and running during these challenging times Aroy Dee
NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital
HUMANS | THE FINEST
A TIME TO BOND
The men and women of NYPD’s 5th Precinct patrol one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods—Chinatown. by Mike Hammer photography by Andrew Matusik
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
THE FINEST | HUMANS
COMMUNITY SERVICE Captain Paul J. Zangrilli (center, in white shirt), with officers of the 5th Precinct and members of the Chinatown community.
OVER THE PAST FIVE MONTHS, the officers who patrol Lower Manhattan not only continued to do their jobs protecting the community under dire circumstances—they deepened their bond with their neighbors. “I’ve worked in the Bronx and Manhattan South and without a doubt, this is the tightest, closest-knit community I’ve ever been a part of,” said Capt. Paul J. Zangrilli, who has commanded the precinct for just over a year. The precinct commander said he and his officers have worked closely with local business organizations, the community board, store and restaurant owners, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin to educate them on how to best protect their properties and their health—and promote ongoing dialogue. “In an era where there is clearly significant anti-police sentiment, in this precinct we feel embraced and trusted,” he said. “Our officers have been made to feel that they are valued in keeping the community safe and flourishing.” And while recent protests have led to some clashes between uniformed officers and demonstrators, Capt. Zangrilli has made it clear the men and women of the 5th Precinct are steadfast in their duty to serve and protect the protestors as well as the rest of the community. “We can empathize with each other,” he explained. “We’ve had incredible dialogues with people who support us, and with those who are rallying for change. We know we can always improve.” Capt. Zangrilli and his officers face down their own fears every day to go out and patrol the community and continue to keep residents safe despite the threat of infection and possible death. The marauding virus hit
the NYPD early and hard. By May, more than 7,000 officers were reported ill and, by mid-July, 31 had died from the deadly infection. “We had 16 confirmed cases among our ranks in this precinct alone,” Capt. Zangrilli somberly recalled. “The officers were fearful for their families. But they also knew they had to go out there and address the needs of the community more now than ever.” Of course, precautions needed to be taken. “Patrol cars are disinfected from top to bottom with each tour,” the Captain cautioned. “Masks are worn non-stop. We sometimes hold our role calls outside and everybody was issued gloves and sanitizers. We all understood that we were the most exposed.” Still, they continued to patrol and, in many cases, provide a new kind of service to the community. “The pandemic brought a decrease in street crime and an uptick in burglaries,” he said. “So we educated business owners on how to best secure their properties, and we tactically deploy our officers to better respond to the evolving nature of crime in the community.” And through it all, they continue to work with other essential service workers from Emergency Services to FDNY and other agencies to help New Yorkers survive and thrive in the worst calamity to assault the city since the terror attacks of 9/11. “In my 15 years on the job I have never been more proud of how our officers have performed,” Capt. Zangrill said. “And we remain committed in our desire to continue to build relationships and and to keep this community safe and flourishing. Our officers have done a great job and will continue to do so—despite the challenges.” DT THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HUMANS | THE BRAVEST
ANSWERING THE CALL In the battle against COVID-19, the EMT is the true front line. by Mike Hammer photography by Andrew Matusik THE 95 MEN AND WOMEN who work for the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services Division 1 at Pier 36 and South Street, are committed to the community and each other. Throughout the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, each and every one of them have put their lives on the line daily to serve their neighbors without wavering—and they have saved countless lives because of it. “The station has been here so long and some of our members actually live in the community,” said Deputy Chief Patrick Flynn. “When you go through something like this, you tend to see the capacity of the human spirit. You see the best of people, and that’s come through clearly both in our department, and in the community.” Flynn has been on the job for 17 years but has never seen anything like this . And he’s also never seen anyone in his command retreat in the face of the challenge of COVID-19, no matter how deadly it may be. By the end of July New York City had more than 419,000 confirmed cases and a staggering 32,000 deaths from the dreaded virus. Flynn, 45, has a wife and three young boys at home to worry about but he takes every precaution possible to ensure that they safe, and that he and the men and women in his command are ready to protect the people of Lower Manhattan. Members of Flynn’s team—which he says come from “as far away as you can drive to get to work”—are overcoming their own fears every day to do battle with this invisible foe. “Everybody has their own family and we take every precaution possible to not bring the dangers of our jobs home with us,” Flynn said, explaining that he changes at the end of his
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
shift at the station, then showers and changes again before he comes in contact with his wife and three kids. Before the virus, EMS reported an average 4,000 calls a day throughout the city. Contrast that to a whopping 6,500 calls that were made daily at the pandemic's peak, and you realize the level of exposure the EMTs are facing along with the toll it takes on them. “It’s a mental, physical and emotional grind,” he said. “You’re facing so much serious illness. We had to think about helping all those people and at the same time protecting our members.” The 60 Emergency Medical Technicians have more than 150 hours of intensive training, and the 25 paramedics—who boast more 1,800 hours—were all outfitted with N95 masks and gloves for their protection. But the real security and strength comes from each other. “The station is a close-knit place,” he said. “We have therapy programs in place, but the real support comes from our peers. We talk to each other, share our experiences, and help each other through every step of the way—just as we do for the people we serve.” Several of his own people were infected with the virus, according to Flynn. But despite the fear that came with seeing their fellow members becoming ill, those who remained took on extra hours and shifts to make sure that the community around them was covered. “We never had to talk about coverage,” Flynn explained. “People just stepped up without a second thought.” He says, “This group continues to rise to the occasion for their brothers and sisters and the people we pledge to serve. I couldn’t be prouder of all of them.” DT
HUMANS | THE STRONGEST
CLEAN LIVING Downtown Alliance Sanitation workers are keeping the streets clean all year round, even during a pandemic. by Noemi Florea photography by Andrew Matusik
WHILE CLOSED BUSINESSES MIGHT make New York seem frozen, clean sidewalks tell a different story. Throughout the Pause, the sanitation workers of the Downtown Alliance have made Lower Manhattan feel livable by doing everything from collecting litter to cleaning up graffiti. “We’re doing general cleaning of the downtown area,” says Carl Homward, assistant director of Alliance Sanitation, “keeping the streets, sidewalks, and gutters clean.” Though it is a thankless, and often unseen task, sanitation is integral to the health and safety of New Yorkers. “I think we bring a sense of comfort for people knowing that we’re out here, taking care of the Lower Manhattan area, keeping it clean and fresh,” says Homward, “People can come out and not have to worry about an eyesore, especially during the pandemic, protests, and riots.” To provide this comfort, workers are required to face the threats that most avoid when staying home. “Getting to work, having to travel on public transportation, I think that’s probably the one thing (essential workers) fear the most,” says Homward. Within Downtown Alliance, “we practice safety on our part by keeping our distance and doing our best to maintain cleanliness and protect ourselves. We wear masks every day and throughout the day we wear gloves.” Along with the mandated PPE and social distancing, Alliance
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
Sanitation has been hit with budgetary shortfalls. “Our staff was cut by 70 percent, but we’re out here doing the best we can with the workers we have.” Similar experiences ring true for most storefronts, organizations, and offices, which have been closed either partially or entirely in past months to limit the physical capacity of spaces. Rising unemployment rates echo this reality more each week. COVID-19 has emphasized the gravity of pandemics and the importance of preparation. It is also a warning of contagions to come, as continued climate change means an anticipated rise in contagious diseases over time. “The government could support (us) with additional funding towards what we need: masks, gloves, emergency kits,” says Homward, “Every business should have a safety plan ready in case of another pandemic. Always have disposable gloves, masks, face shields, and sanitizers on hand.” If the public wants to support their frontline workers, says Homward, the best thing to do is to wear a mask and consider their impact as individuals on others. “Even if it’s just for a common cold, wear a mask. When I’m on the train and I’m wearing my mask and I’m sitting next to someone who isn’t wearing a mask it makes them a little uncomfortable. They feel guilty they’re not wearing a mask. If we continue to practice safety, it will encourage others to do the same.” DT
THE MOVERS | HUMANS
UNDERGROUND HERO James Williams cleans up real good. by Mike Hammer photography by Andrew Matusik
WHILE MANY NEW YORKERS are hunkered down, limiting their contact with other people, and avoiding public transportation, James Williams has been showing up for work every day. The 56-year-old Bronx native has been an MTA station cleaner for 21 years and has continued providing his essential service during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day since the city went into lockdown in March, the proud husband and father leaves his home and family and puts his life on the line to head to work at the massive 53rd and Lexington station, where he does his part to protect New Yorkers from infection and potential death by sanitizing the enormous subway hub. “I don’t want anyone to get sick at my station,” he says when asked what drives him. “It’s my job.” And while he has proved his commitment to keeping the station safe for more than two decades, the stakes were clearly raised with the frightening emergence of COVID-19. The life-long New Yorker reports to the front lines each day at 6 a.m. to “suit and boot,” donning gloves, goggles, and other protective gear to do battle against the most dangerous serial killer the city has ever known. The deadly virus has claimed the lives of nearly 150 MTA workers alone and at this writing nearly 32,000 New Yorkers overall—a menacing statistic that doesn’t escape Williams, or any of his brave co-workers who report to work each day to clean their stations and protect the city’s millions of commuters. “Sure, I get scared, but I’m invested in this because I am a New Yorker,” he said. “I ride the train every day—as do my family and friends—and the people who ride our trains are my neighbors. I need to do this for all of them because this thing is bigger than all of us.” “I check in with my supervisor before every shift at 6 a.m. and we walk the entire station to figure out where the focus needs to be that day,” he said. “Then I get to work.” Williams sanitizes every inch of the huge, 86-year-old station which connects the E and the M lines with the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 trains and connects to 19 different bus lines. He mops the floors and stairs, wipes down the walls and turnstiles with bleach and a special chemical called Lemon Quat, designed specifically to battle the virus. Ignoring the dangers of getting infected himself, Williams has not missed a single day of duty—despite suffering a frightening bout with illness himself. “Right after the virus broke out, I was sick and in bed for three days—luckily those were days I was not scheduled to work,” he said. “But I didn’t have the virus. I got through it and was fine and back in work on Monday.” Along with his daily duties, he also fills a new role in calming the frightened customers who are slowly returning to their daily commutes after months of being confined to their homes. “I try to talk with them whenever I can,” he said. “Some of them were pretty scared and they would help me find spills and other problems that I could clean and set their fears at ease. But for the most part, nobody pays us much mind—because we’re just doing our job. We’re the unsung heroes.” DT THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HUMANS | THE MORALE BOOSTERS
FORCE Creativity survives the pandemic. by Deborah L. Martin
BEst of New York NICHOLAS HELLER, INSTAGRAM’S @NEWYORKNICO, bills himself as “The Unoffical Talent Scout of New York City,” and spends his time documenting the characters that make New York, New York. Brooklyn’s Green Lady; Tiger Hood the street golfer; Little Italy’s beloved Vinny Peanuts; PaperBoy the Prince (who is now running for Congress); Williamsburg’s Charlie da Wolf; these are just some of the people captured on Heller’s popular Instagram. When New York became the COVID-19 epicenter, he hatched a plan to help boost morale. The #bestNYaccent contest started small, then took off. “I’ve always been fascinated by the accent, mainly because even though I’m born and raised here, I don’t have one.” The contest quickly gained celebrity attention, with celebrity participants such as Nicholas Turturro, Kathleen Narducci, Chas Palminteri, and Alec Baldwin sending in their video entries alongside “regular” New Yorkers, each one a star. He followed that with #bestNYshirt2020, with the proceeds going to The Campaign against Hunger and Gods Love We Deliver, #bestNYphoto, which raised $230,000 for eight charities including Henry Street Settlement, Color of Change, and Black Lives Matter, and #bestNYmask, with proceeds going to Gods Love We Deliver. Turns out, NewYorkNico is the hero we didn’t know we needed. newyorkni.co
THE SOCIAL (JUSTICE) NETWORK ONE WOMAN’S EFFORTS TO PULL US TOGETHER FORGET TIMES SQUARE—downtown Manhattan is the heart of NYC. And at the heart of downtown is Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. Since 2014, Lappin has connected organizations and coordinated forces to improve upon Downtown, making it an attractive, competitive place to work, live, and play. Whenever Downtown makes a move, Lappin has her hand in it. Now, amid one of the worst outbreaks of disease this city has ever faced, Lappin is at the center of efforts to keep Downtown safe and thriving. Along with the rest of the Alliance, she has worked hard to create grants and support businesses and notfor-profits to keep downtown strong. “We occupy a unique space and are a nexus between the public and private sectors,” says Lappin, “We are working as closely as ever with our property owners, city agencies, elected officials, local not for profits and civic organizations.”
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It has been a challenging transition for Lappin, who has two school-age boys at home. Wearing sweatpants to work is an obvious plus, she admits, but that comfort comes at the cost of connection. “Technology is amazing, and it’s great that we can all communicate virtually, but, there’s nothing quite like an in-person brainstorming session. By working virtually, we lose the nuance and energy that comes from in-person meetings.” Those brainstorming sessions, difficult though they might be, have yielded results. In May, the Alliance launched a small business grant program that created an $800,000 fund to support local businesses. The fund gives $10,000 rental assistance grants to small essential storefront businesses serving downtown. The Alliance added seed money, but significant contributions also came from Brookfield Properties, Silverstein Properties, and the Howard Hughes Corporation. They have also continued their partnership with Trinity Church to provide homelessness outreach--essential for a community which lacks the resources to “Pause” or quarantine—
and helps keep the free Downtown Connection bus operating to get essential workers where they need to go. Lappin has also found some silver linings amidst the tragedy. She loves NYC’s “7 pm Howl,” a collective cathartic howl by NYC residents to support essential and frontline workers. She has also enjoyed getting to spend more time with her family. “I have always worked full time and never been home with the kids. While it is challenging in certain moments, it’s also a gift to have so much time with them.” —Dan Metz
THE MORALE BOOSTERS | HUMANS
SISTERHOOD REBECCA MOSES HAS A PASSION FOR PAINTING STRONG WOMEN, so when COVID-19 hit, and quarantines unfolded all over the world, she hatched a plan to celebrate the women who were staying at home and making the best of a bad situation. The “Stay Home Sisters” project started slowly, with a call to Moses’s Instagram audience to tell her their Stay Home stories. From magazine editors (including Downtown Editor in Chief Deb Martin), to fashion stylists, from teachers to doctors, from activists to dancers, with ages ranging from five years old to 100 years old, and from six continents, the stories unfolded. Tales of loss and heartache, of joy and inventiveness all found their way onto Moses’s studio and into our hearts. Now numbering over 300 sisters, the images are a body of work that tell the personal stories of a worldwide quarantine that has affected the lives of millions of people. Using ink and paint, Moses incorporates items from each woman’s story, which they submit to her via Instagram message, along with a photo. Her creations are in her own painterly style, but are so evocative of the subject that it is as if each woman sat for a portrait in the artist’s studio. About a month into the project, Moses started to interview various sisters on Instagram live. Months after it began, Moses has created a sisterhood that is ever growing, of women who are, in the artist’s words, “Strong, disciplined, and kind. A tapestry of love, and hope. A sisterhood of the coolest chicks from around the world!” rebeccamoses.com
NEW YORK CITY STREET ARTIST SACSIX, known for his colorful depictions of iconic figures merged with pop culture references—think Dr. Anthony Fauci in Spock’s Star Trek uniform—opened ArtClinicNYC out of his Lower East Side art studio in late March, as New York City schools shut down due to COVID-19. “I started thinking about what makes something essential. As a volunteer at Free Arts NYC, I knew how important free art was for many of the underserved kids in New York. Art and art education is essential. As soon as the schools closed, I knew I had to figure out a way to provide free, essential art supplies for the kids in the neighborhood.” Because his studio was closed, he started taping coloring pages and crayons to his front windows for the kids in his neighborhood to take. Because he didn’t want to create a “scene,” he does not publicize the address, prefering to keep this a hyper-local service to the families in his immediate neighborhood. “I want people to stay safe and not to leave quarantine to get the coloring packs. This is just a small resource for the families of the Lower East Side.” While he created ArtClinicNYC by himself, he is grateful to his fellow street artists who have contributed drawings for kids to color. And he will keep it up as long as it is needed. “The cost of operating it is not much. And every day, I see people of all ages, races and genders taking the coloring packs. I can see their genuine happiness. I get paid back every day when I see a smile.” sacsix.com THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HUMANS | THE NEIGHBORS
TOUGH, SMART, UNITED, DISCIPLINED, LOVING Andrew M. Cuomo
coming from states with high COVID rates, but our progress remains at risk until the COVID pandemic is under control nationally. The second threat is that we become lax and let our guard down, allowing the virus to spread. Unlike the threat from outside infections, this one is in our control. We have the ability and the duty to act responsibly. That means wearing a mask. It means not hosting or attending large and crowded parties. It means getting tested, especially if you have symptoms, and it means cooperating with contact tracers if you are positive for COVID. In brief, it means looking out for one another. Finally, I know that for all New Yorkers, this has been an extremely trying experience— whether you lost a loved one, a job, or if you continue to lose sleep due to the stress of this pandemic. I mourn with all New Yorkers on behalf of all those lost to this virus, and I share in the anxiety, too. But we are New York Tough. I have no doubt that we can continue our progress in our fight against COVID by depending upon the solidarity, strength and compassion that makes New York New York. Ever Upward.
WE HAVE MADE INCREDIBLE PROGRESS over the last five months. New York State was the nation’s first epicenter and now we are one of the very few states where COVID is under control. We didn’t just bend the curve, we shattered it—thanks to the effort and smart choices of all New Yorkers. Total hospitalizations have fallen below 600, reaching record lows. We are testing more than any other state and more than any other country per capita, and thousands of contact tracers are working around the clock to trace and prevent outbreaks. Every community in the state is now in Phase 4 of reopening. Happily, the infection rate has continued to decline even as the whole state entered Phase 4, showing that our cautious and science-based approach to reopening worked. All this progress, however, comes with a flashing caution sign. Our state still faces two dangerous threats. The first is the threat of COVID spreading from other states. In response to this threat, we have issued a travel advisory for people
AS A LIFELONG NEW YORKER born during the height of the Great Depression, I have watched with utter amazement at how this incredible town has, by sheer force of will, turned itself into a worldwide colossus in business, technology, media, arts, culture, and so much more. While the good times have far outnumbered the bad, New Yorkers have navigated and grown stronger through many major crises, including World War II, the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s, the blackout of 1977, the early 1990’s recession, the dot com bust, the September 11 attacks, the Great Recession following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and Superstorm Sandy. Of course, there are some very obvious
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differences between the events of 9/11, which unfolded over a span of 102 minutes, and the slow-motion crisis that is the coronavirus. At the same time, there are some striking similarities that provide both a roadmap and source of optimism for New York’s ultimate recovery. First and foremost is the extreme heroism we are witnessing from our fellow New Yorkers on the front lines. In 2001, it was the firefighters, police officers, and construction workers who rushed in and did what they could to protect and save complete strangers. As anyone who lived through that period can tell you, their bravery, selflessness and kinship set the tone for the entire recovery and rebuilding effort. This time around, we are taking our cues from the doctors, nurses and emergency responders who are serving as the models of courage, grit, and community. In 2001, New Yorkers lined the West Side Highway to salute our first responders. Today, they lean out of their windows at 7pm each evening to applaud our healthcare workers.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEV RADIN/SHUTTERSTOCK (CUOMO); JOE WOOLHEAD (SILVERSTEIN).
New York leads with determination, hope, and a commitment to a better future.
THE NEIGHBORS | HUMANS As was the case nearly 19 years ago, there is a growing chorus of naysayers claiming New York City’s best days are behind us. We are too densely populated, they say. Companies will opt to scatter their workforces. Everyone will just continue working from home. As we all showed post-9/11, that sort of thinking is nonsense. The same qualities that drove the world’s top companies and creative talent to the Big Apple before this outbreak will continue to lure them here long after we have all retuned to work. Of course, we will need to adapt our physical environments based on lessons learned and new technologies, but that’s in keeping with the natural evolution of the workplace. The question isn’t if New York will bounce back; it’s how fast can we restart our economy once the medical and scientific communities give us the all clear. The answer to that question hinges on the ability of local, State and Federal government to work together and in close coordination. From both an economic and humanitarian standpoint, we need to cut as much red tape as possible in order to get stimulus money and unemployment checks into the hands of all those New Yorkers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and to the small businesses who have shut down in order to slow the spread of the virus. We will then need a plan to get the hardest-hit sectors of the city’s economy back up and running. This includes restaurants, theaters, hotels and cultural institutions that rely on a robust tourism industry. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NYS Forward Task Force has implemented such a plan, and the private sector has an important role to play in shaping and carrying out his vision. It will also be important to generate new revenue streams to fund the operation and upkeep of our subways, commuter trains, buses, airports and other infrastructure. The Federal government can help by providing additional aid, and by fast-tracking approval for congestion pricing. The City and State can also take advantage of historically low interest rates to fund long-term transportation improvements that will increase reliability and get construction crews back to work. And real estate developers can move forward with construction projects that will generate thousands of jobs, and an economic stimulus for the entire region. All of this will require multiple branches of government to work cooperatively and in a bipartisan manner. We saw that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Unfortunately, as time wore on, the public sector lost its sense of togetherness and fell back on its longstanding jurisdictional and partisan disputes. As divided as our politics seems at the moment, especially in the run-up to a Presidential election, we must remain united and act with a common sense of purpose. Having devoted the twilight of my career to rebuilding the World Trade Center and
revitalizing Lower Manhattan, I know the road ahead will be difficult at times, and include many twists and turns. But if we all pull together, we will one day look back on our response to this crisis with enormous pride. I’ve learned over many years that you should never bet against America and particularly New York. Never. This town always comes back, stronger than ever.
AS WE FACE THE CHALLENGES OF COVID-19, and our economic recovery, we must turn to what has always fueled America’s success: resiliency and innovation. When frontline healthcare workers walked into hospitals clothed in garbage bags, I saw an opportunity emerge to harness American manufacturing capabilities right here in New York City. The fashion industry has long been ingrained in the fabric of our city, and I have always seen it as a force for change. Earlier this year I helped to organize “Fashion for the Frontlines,” a coalition of New York City designers, manufacturers, and industry leaders, to understand the nexus between technology and fashion. In March and April, they quickly transformed their manufacturing capabilities to aid in PPE production. Led by Kay Unger Pitman and Mi Jong Lee, “Fashion for the Frontlines” mobilized NYC factories to manufacture and distribute masks and gowns to frontline medical professionals in New York. They have shown us that making PPE in America is not only possible but can help our country with the catastrophic medical supply shortages that our nation has faced since the beginning of this pandemic. “Fashion for the Frontline’s” adaptability led me to introduce the “Made in America: Preparation for a Pandemic Act.” It will require that 25 percent of the Strategic National Stockpile PPE be produced in the U.S. Additionally, it will strengthen our domestic supply chains and create incentives for manufacturers to produce in America by implementing a tax credit to assist them with the costs of developing or expanding domestic sources for the end-to-end production of PPE goods. I commend New Yorkers for once again leading the nation and proving that ingenuity and resiliency will get us through this crisis. We need to make sure our nation is never deficient in critical PPE again.
Catherin McVay Hughess
THE PEOPLE OF LOWER MANHATTAN will always remember the scene of firefighters rushing to the rescue on 9/11. In 2020 we are adding a new memory of heroism under duress: while we sheltered in lockdown to avoid a deadly disease, our frontline healthcare workers came rushing to our rescue, putting themselves in harm’s way,
using their knowledge and experience to defeat this disease and keep us safe. In daily conversation we talk about a healthcare “system” but when danger threatens we see that this “system” is really a community of professionals dedicated to the public good: from EMTs to lab technicians, from ICU nurses to hospital administrators, they are all working together, working hard, and many of them are risking their own health, and separating themselves from their own families, for the sake of our health and our families. Bravery and self-sacrifice are hard to define. Dictionaries are not enough. To learn the meaning of these words, examples teach us best. The healthcare heroes of COVID-19 are inspiring examples of selfless generosity and dedication. If we have confidence that this virus will be defeated it is because we see their determination, their professionalism, and their commitment in action.
Classic Harbor Line
CLASSIC HARBOR LINE is eternally grateful to the front line workers of New York City. The past few months have been long and we are beyond proud of our hard working and loyal health care providers and first responders who pulled us through. Additionally, we are so thankful to all essential workers and New Yorkers who practiced social distancing and who wore masks to help get us to where we are today. Without all these efforts and sacrifice, we would likely be tied up at the dock with no hope in sight. We are grateful to be back on the water again and able to safely show our guests the best views of Manhattan on our made-in-New York custom schooners and yachts. Since temporarily closing in March, we’ve been thinking about what our reopening day would be like. We reformatted our business to adopt guidance from the CDC and the NY Forward task force. Now we have an extensive health and safety plan in place that ensures each passenger, captain, and crew member is safe. We are thrilled that opening day has arrived. It’s truly an honor to give our fellow New Yorkers and neighbors the opportunity to get out of their apartments and enjoy New York’s waterways once again. Hope to see you aboard soon. sail-nyc.com
COVID-19 HAS DEFINITELY AFFECTED Skinfluence’s New York City office. We are seeing fewer patients than before since we need to schedule time between each appointment to sanitize all surfaces and we also need to make sure that there are never more than a few patients in the waiting room at a time so we can maintain proper social distancing guidelines. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HUMANS | THE NEIGHBORS Although some people are still wary about receiving elective treatments, I have noticed that women still want to feel and look their best. As a physician, I understand what the medical community went through during this difficult time. Thank you, and the essential workers for getting us through this difficult time.
NEARLY EVERY RESIDENTIAL BUILDING in which Duce Construction Corp. had an active jobsite, closed to contractors, so we had to furlough most of our field staff. Our office staff had already been working remotely before the PAUSE order. But we were relatively fortunate— we won a contract to renovate an essential (medical) business—so we could keep a portion of our crew working. Duce is strictly implementing all Department of Health safety measures: temperature testing and contact tracing, keeping workers away from each other unless absolutely necessary, providing PPE (masks, gloves, etc.), and adding sanitizing/cleaning stations at each site. Like so many others, we had to embrace video conferencing in lieu of face-to-face meetings. Everyone at Duce has the utmost admiration for NY’s first responders. Trying to find any little way to help, we stretched our 3D printing capacity to the limit, fabricating over 1000 ear savers in April and May, and delivered them directly to hospitals just to make their incredibly hard work ever-so-slightly more comfortable. Proven over and over again, after disasters natural and man-made, New Yorkers know how to show up to help each other rise through the worst of conditions. I think we all have a new appreciation for the people who typically get little recognition as essential—those who work behind the scenes, who didn’t sign up for this, yet continue to punch in and out, under ever more demanding circumstances, to provide their specific service to the community. Our hats are off to them—janitors, grocers, cashiers, truck drivers, postal carriers, and so many more— Duce Construction Corp. couldn’t provide our service to our clients without every single one of them. Again and again, we thank you all, and for the benefit of all of us, stay NEW YORK STRONG!
Goldman Sachs WITHOUT QUESTION, living in various states of quarantine takes a toll on all of us in different ways. We have been highly focused on how we manage work, how we take care of family and our responsibilities at home; how we juggle new ways to interact in this complicated
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setting, and how we operate our lives within the necessary government and health guidelines. As we all have our heads down, focusing on the immediate needs surrounding us, our CEO David Solomon has encouraged us to “look up,” to take into account what’s happening around us. At our global town hall, he encouraged us to engage in a real and open dialogue about race in the workplace and society more broadly. We have witnessed empathy and compassion from our people around the globe and are inspired by our black colleagues’ courage and raw storytelling. At Goldman Sachs, our community—of all backgrounds—has come together to discuss how we can collectively and individually take steps to effect positive change, including the recently announced Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity, created to support the vital work of leading organizations addressing racial injustice, structural inequity and economic disparity. We could not be prouder of how our teams are rallying and adapting in this incredibly dynamic and challenging environment. Many cities around the world have started a gradual reopening, giving us reasons to be hopeful, as we all want the vibrant communities in which we live and work to thrive once again.
Gregory Harrington COVID-19 has had such an impact on the music and entertainment industry. The lives of musicians, actors, and entertainers all over the world have been affected, from Broadway going dark until 2021, to symphony orchestras cancelling their seasons and music venues all over the US unable to open. It has affected us in ways we never thought possible both emotionally and economically. The prospect of no work for months is taking its toll and when the arts eventually do come back, we wonder how we will be able to perform successfully and safely. Can we have an ensemble cast and pit orchestra together in the confines of a Broadway theater? The landscape has changed forever and we will adjust to the new normal. There’s always hope, and the sacrifice of our essential workers is mind-blowing—from doctors to EMTs, the NYPD and FDNY, from grocery clerks to the MTA—how they put themselves in harm’s way is truly heroic. As artists, we take great comfort in knowing that they are there. And words can’t even begin to show our thanks, compassion, and gratitude. We are all struggling with the monotony of not knowing what the next step is. Without concert halls and audiences, making a living the way we used to seems so much more difficult. Yet the arts is something that is so essential to the well-being and the mental health of us all. We are facing the impossible task of trying to bring the concert hall into the living room
of an already jaded zoom audience. But that challenge simply has to be navigated for us to make our living. One thing we all know—this is temporary. And the heroic work of the essential workers gives us the energy and knowledge that better days lie ahead.
Saul Scherl, H HC LIKE ALL NEIGHBORHOODS IN NEW YORK CITY, Lower Manhattan is pulling together in this time of profound global crisis. We are so proud to be part of this diverse and caring community, and continue to be inspired by the many local organizations and leaders devoted to helping our neighbors survive the pandemic and lay the groundwork for NYC’s economic recovery. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with nonprofits and organizations providing a lifeline amid these challenges, and we ask all who are able to please join us in supporting the important efforts of groups like the City Council District 1 Food Pantry, with which we have worked over the past months as part of an initiative spearheaded by Council Member Margaret Chin to provide meals and groceries to seniors and residents with limited food access; the Bowery Mission, which leads essential hunger relief services in Lower Manhattan and helped to distribute food donated by Seaport District restaurants as they prepared to close in April; TUFF-LES housing advocates, who continue to provide food to residents in need in our area, including to the Smith Houses and 82 Rutgers Slip; Grand Street Settlement, which has been working to get groceries to vulnerable and elderly residents; and the Chinese-American Planning Council, which runs a vital program for home-bound seniors. HHC is also committed to supporting the small businesses that fuel the Seaport economy. In partnership with Lower Manhattan property owners and led by the Downtown Alliance, we have established an emergency fund to provide area restaurants emergency cash grants as they get back on their feet. We especially want to commend the extraordinary first responders and healthcare workers for their ongoing strength and sacrifice. We were pleased to donate PPE to NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan and FDNY Fire Engine 6, as well as provide meals from local restaurants to our Sanitation depot at Pier 36 and the NYPD 1st Precinct. Seeing the work of so many after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy, and now, on the front lines of this pandemic over the past several months, we are confident that the Seaport and Downtown will emerge stronger, more equitable and more resilient than ever. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our neighborhood and the city’s recovery.
THE NEIGHBORS | HUMANS
Our new standards • Hand Hygiene Our staff will be required to wash their hands after every client. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the salon.
S O H O SA LO N N OW O P E N 394 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012 CLEANING STANDARDS All salons have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected as part of our reopening process. All workstations will be disinfected after each appointment.
SOCIAL DISTANCING We have reduced occupancy by implementing shifts for our staff, extending appointment times and working in every other chair.
FACE COVERINGS By law service providers will wear shields and masks. Clients must wear a mask as well and we recommend one that secures behind the ear.
• Touchless Greetings Refrain from shaking hands or any physical contact. • Touch free/contactless payment A credit card will be required to secure all appointments and for check outs. All receipts will be sent via email. • No beverages All beverage service will be suspended indefinitely. • Coat check rooms and service will not be available. Guests will receive a robe at check in along with a bag to keep all belongings. • Makeup services and testers will not be available for the time being. • No guests or walk-ins Only clients with an appointment can enter the salon. * No pets are allowed either.
• Waiting areas will no longer be available * Guests are encouraged to arrive no earlier than their scheduled appointment time.
• Cashless Gratuities Tips can now be placed on credit cards and through Venmo. There will be no exchange of cash and no tip envelopes.
(2 1 2 ) 888- 2600 | FE K K AI . C O M THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HUMANS | VOICES OF CHANGE
Two members of Girl Be Heard share their experiences during this time of racial reckoning. Educated, Articulate, and Black by Jamilah Rosemond illustration by Felicity Flores Drew MY TIME IN MIDDLE SCHOOL was something else. I hated it there. I couldn’t wait to go to high school! I went to a predominately white school. I was getting sent to the vice principal’s office for no reason. Remember the hallway passes and how you had to take it everywhere? Well, this one teacher would scream at me for going to the bathroom. “Jamilah I’m writing you up! You’re not supposed to be in the hallway. You think I don’t know you’re being sneaky?” Meanwhile, my hallway pass was in my hand. I had my mom call her. The teacher’s response was, “What? No? I love Jamilah. I would never do that.” Middle school was messed up and so racist. I thought that once I graduated from there I would be graduating from racism as well. Poor me for being so optimistic. No, but seriously high school was the same. From a bi-racial girl telling me “no offense” as she assumes my curls aren’t beautiful. When I came the next week with my hair natural and suddenly my curls are #hairgoals. And then there was my auditioning for school plays. One year they were doing The Little Mermaid and I really wanted to audition but was thinking who could I play? I thought, I hope they don’t make me be Sebastian, I really can’t do a Jamaican accent. Anyway, I auditioned, got a callback, and as I’m practicing my lines in the corner this white girl walks up to me and says, “Who are you auditioning for? Obviously not Ariel cause, you know like, Ariel is like not...black.” These are things I really just had to brush off and I still do. And with everything that is happening right now with Black people being brutally murdered, and the many white people who are silent, it made me think. The lack of education in Black history and the lack of awareness of white privilege in white households is the reason why some remain clueless today. Think about it. Many Black students including myself are constantly faced with micro-aggressions almost every day at school. Micro-aggressions to me are subtle insults that to the oblivious eye don’t seem like a big deal, but it is. There have been white classmates that assumed I’m from Jamaica or Africa just because I am Black. They didn’t ask, they were telling me. Well, where did they get that information from? They heard it from someone else, they were never corrected, and their privilege allowed them to get away with saying things like that. Another comment I often get is “You don’t sound black, you are so articulate.” “But that’s a compliment!” Some white people would say. The problem with that statement is that I am Black. Telling me that I don’t sound Black implies that you believe Black people sound ghetto and uneducated. But the truth is Black people are very educated. Actually, Black women are the most educated group in the United States, even though they get treated with the least amount of respect. But see, that behavior towards Black women is taught. Racism, overall, is taught, and if white parents spoke to
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
their children about Black history and admitted the wrongness of how white people have oppressed Black people for over 400 years, then Black children wouldn’t have to face racism in their own neighborhoods and schools. If everyone taught their children how to be allies and not bystanders, then we would be able to cut down the roots and terminate racism in America. On the other hand, when I was growing up I was warned about the issues I might encounter. I was warned about the discrimination I might face amongst my teachers and other students. And sadly, I saw how people who look like me are murdered for no reason and how their murderers get away with it too. And I just don’t know if my white friends and classmates are aware of what is happening around them. I don’t know if they’re being taught what not to say and do to Black individuals at an early age. But I do know that it hurts. It hurts that Black people have to live in fear and it hurts that my white classmates feel like it’s not their problem. And it’s frustrating to look back at those memories where I didn’t realize I was a threat to that teacher who criminalized me at such an early age. Or the fact that me and my Black friends running from the cops at 13, which we thought was funny at the time, did it with fear that the police officer would arrest us. Or that I had to witness my brother be accused by a police officer of stealing a bike that he had never seen. A couple of months ago Kaia Rolle, a 6-year-old Black girl, was arrested in Orlando, Florida for punching and kicking her teachers. A police officer walked her out of school with handcuffs on. She cried, “No, no I don’t want to put handcuffs on! I don’t want to go in the police car! Please, give me a second chance!” Mmm well, she had a tantrum so I guess she deserved to be arrested. Do you call the cops on your 6-year-old son, daughter, niece, or nephew when they’re having a meltdown? Or do you put them in time out? That could’ve been me. That could be any Black kid. We fear cops at such an early age because they don’t protect us —they kill us. We don’t get time outs or second chances. And so, I need you to pay attention to someone other than yourself. Acknowledge your privilege and your entitlement, and have these conversations starting in your own home. Speak up, sign petitions, donate, and join the protests. I did, and every white person should because your silence is only fueling the violence.
VOICES OF CHANGE | HUMANS
A MERE FORMALITY OF LIVING IN AMERICA by Spencer Sanchez illustration by Felicity Flores Drew I WROTE ”A Mere Formality of Living in America” because I want more people to know what it is like to be a student in this country. You might think it would be great growing up in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but to be a student here means to be plagued with the gnawing fear of death. It breaks my heart to see story after story of children attacked while trying to learn. For many of us it is a sad reality that we have never truly felt safe in school. For me this started when I first learned about The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, l realized that school was not as safe as it should be. At eight I knew that someone wanted to hurt kids and they succeeded, and I knew there was something horribly wrong with that. Active shooter drills have become as routine as the school bell and lunch. During active shooter drills teachers turn off the lights and lock the door while students hide against the wall to prevent being seen from the window in the door. These drills force students into uncomfortable crouching positions and closer to their peers than they ever wish to be. These lockdown drills may not last very long, but their effects are obvious. Drills like these interrupt class and make it difficult to focus on learning once they are done. In the long run school shootings have had a profound effect on the way teens and kids advocate for themselves. A great example would be the national school walkout that took place March 14, 2018. The March For Our Lives walkout was the first protest that I participated in. It showed me that no matter how old you are, your voice matters and is powerful. Seeing practically my entire middle school on the street and hearing them say “enough is enough” gave me hope that we could make change. As a high school student, life is stressful enough trying to balance six classes, a social life, getting enough sleep and worrying about college. I should not also have to worry about someone taking away my life. I should not have to worry about making it home from school because the threat of gun fire is ever present. Safety in school should be guaranteed. I am asking you to make schools safer by increasing gun control and hopefully as a result ending gun violence. For those who can, your vote matters. We demand you to vote for people who do not take contributions or support by the NRA and similar gun lobbyists, because your vote could mean life or death for students like me. DT
Lights off Doors locked 24 kids shoved in a closet Hooks pressed against our backs Hooks tangled in our hair We have been in the dark too long So long the light hurts my eyes My hips and knees ache as I’m squished in the back of this closet Don’t let them see you from the door My hearts break as it pumps blood to my fingertips to text I love one last time The silence is deafening I can’t see I can’t hear I can’t speak All of my sense have been robbed from me I can’t touch My skin has turned to ice and touch feels like a cut to the bone God I wish I just stayed home The door shakes as someone tries to turn the knob Their effort is useless and they move on But that was only a drill A mere formality of living in America But for many active shooter was not a drill But the last thing they heard before blood began to spill Do I deserve to live in fear Do I deserve to see the death of my peers Screams ringing in my ears I try not to think about dying but when I do my heart climbs to my throat I think about a bullet between my eyes Piercing my mind My body becoming the scene of a crime A nation of kids share fear A fear of death A fear of uncertainty But a want for safety We declared enough is enough is enough is enough How many child hearts have to stop beating for you to start believing Believing that your actions have consequences Making children truly defenseless Keeping your guns means more kids will have to run I’m filled with horror and disgust As I still shout enough is enough But we kids don’t have to be defenseless Your actions are reckless Tell your congressman to end this Don’t let these politicians take money from the NRA your kids will have to pay Your voice needs to be heard Walkout Protest Spread the word Spencer Sanchez THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
DOWNTOWNNYC DOWNTOWNNYC THE THE REFORMERS ESSENTIALS2020 2020
GIANT by Deborah L. Martin photography by Kirit Prajapati
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CITY that never sleeps is forced to take a long nap? Like Charles Dickens, we can honestly say, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” With an unobstructed view we reminded ourselves that our architecture is spectacular, but that footsteps weren’t meant to echo on Fifth Avenue. We remembered that our parks are beautiful and green, but in the silent emptiness the sound of ambulance sirens carries for miles. Looking out over the vast quarantined canyons, we learned that it is hard to sleep without the hum of humanity, reminding us that we are all alive together. We learned (hopefully), that New York City is people. Bodega owners, sanitation workers, bartenders, doctors and nurses, bus drivers, office workers, dancers, and magicians—as essential to New York as the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, egg creams, Carnegie Hall, and dirty water dogs. When the story of New York’s long nap is written, I hope this is the lede: New York is people. DT
THE THEESSENTIALS REFORMERS 2020 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC DOWNTOWNNYC
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SAVOIR FARE | CULTURE
COMFORT FOOD In the pandemic’s epicenter, embattled chefs and restaurant workers stepped up to feed the world. by Fernanda Mueller
IN A PANDEMIC, food isn’t just fuel to survive—it can represent love, community, and support. New York City’s restaurants and markets have reached out to support healthcare workers and food insecure communities across the city, showing that even during social isolation, food can still be our connection, and nobody should be forgotten.
Since 2013, Khe-Yo has been treating New Yorkers to authentic Laotian Cuisine and that didn’t stop during the pandemic. Besides offering delivery and takeout every day, Khe-Yo has been serving frontline workers in partnership with Taste of Tribeca. They have been providing meals to multiple hospitals in New York, such as Lenox Hill, NY Langone, since early April. “We have found great pride in being part of the ongoing effort to get back to normal,” says co-owner Nick Bradley, “We also are happy to be able to offer most of our former staff full-time jobs.” Like other organizations in the city, Taste of Tribeca has created a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support their neighborhood’s restaurants and the medical professionals. With the community’s donations they have been able to buy meals from participating restaurants, such as Khe-Yo.
Building a better food system for everyone by serving real, good food and buying from minority-run and small-scale farms, was always Dig Inn’s mission. During this crisis, they took a step forward and launched the Dig Feeds program in the beginning of the pandemic. Since March 17th, farmers and chefs that work for Dig Inn restaurants have made more than 150,000 meals for hospital workers, senior centers, homeless shelters and food banks.
To make a contribution, visit: charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/taste-oftribeca-community-fund
In order to reach more people, Dig Inn has set up a text line to fulfill requests from all over the cities they serve—New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Any hospital, nonprofit or community in need can text DIGFEEDS to 80519 to request donated meals, and meals can be donated by visiting: diginn.com/order/donations/ THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
CULTURE | SAVOIR FARE
Meals 4 Heroes is helping to keep frontline workers fed, while simultaneously supporting New York’s hospitality industry.
MEALS 4 HEROES When asked what kind of help they needed most, medical professionals said: “we can’t find anything to eat.” These front-line workers were working 24-hour shifts, and they were starving--most hospital cafeterias were closed, and they couldn’t leave the hospital to buy food. That’s when Joel Weingarten and his wife Anna Azvolinsky started to contact restaurants to donate meals for frontline workers, and created Meals 4 Heroes. Many of the businesses Weingarten and Azvolinsky reached out to were closed, reopening just to deliver food for the hospitals. With the help of Meals 4 Heroes, many of these restaurants have been able to open for deliveries and take out to the public as well. So when people donate to Meals 4 Heroes, they are not only providing a much-needed service to medical professionals, but also keeping New York City’s small businesses alive. More than 26 thousand health care workers have been served and 23 local businesses have been impacted. Akram Nassir, Delta Captain and owner of one of the partners’ restaurants, called Yemen Cafe, flew medical supplies and personnel all around the country at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic. After Nassir was sent home at the end of March, he decided to continue giving back through food. “With everyone’s help and support we have kept our doors open and our employees employed. Every donation has been put in the right place to help our healthcare workers and help keep this wonderful operation going,” says Nassir. Donations can be made by visiting meals4heroes.org
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SAVOIR FARE | CULTURE KATZ’S DELICATESSEN Katz’s Deli has been around for 132 years, through the Great Depression, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, 9/11, and Hurricane Sandy. They understand hard times. As the lockdown began, the historic Lower East Side restaurant started providing soups to senior citizens and low-income residents around their neighborhood. During the first week of April, they expanded to feeding health care workers around the city, working together with Feed the Frontline, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, and the Jewish Food Society. “The people of New York have taken care of us by coming back to Katz’s year after year, now we get the chance to take care of them,” says Jake Dell, the 5th generation owner of Katz’s. To donate, visit: katzsdelicatessen.com/shipping/keep-nyc-healthy
Fifth generation owner of Katz’s Deli—Jake Dell—is making sure New York’s fronline heroes, as well as senior citizens and lowincome residents, are fed.
THE MEATBALL SHOP When the city shut down in March, The Meatball Shop team decided to stay open for take-out and delivery. They wanted to be there as a semblance of normalcy for the communities they serve. A couple of days later, they started sending food to hospital healthcare workers across three boroughs-Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. “(Healthcare workers) don’t have access to really any food, except fast food. So we wanted to make sure that we were available for them as well,” explains CEO Adam Rosenbaum. The Meatball Shop is currently sending meals six days a week to as many as three different hospitals each day, supported at least in part by their GoFundMe page, called Heroes for Heroes. Being involved in meal donations is a way to support New York heroes and to maintain the sense of community in the city, as Rosenbaum points out: “(Dinners at) restaurants are always a time when people come together. I was in NYC on 9/11. During that time, restaurants were very busy. They were a place where people went to feel connected to each other. Now we are dealing with a similar scary situation and people can’t be engaged socially, which is in our human nature. So we try to be as normal as possible.” To donate, visit: gofundme.com/f/Meatball-heroes-for-heroes
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
CULTURE | SAVOIR FARE Heart of Dinner is addressing food insecurity in New York’s Asian community, with donated meals and loving, handwritten notes of support.
Brooklyn Chop House delivers delicious, hearty meals to area hospitals. Help out by ordering take-out or delivery.
BROOKLYN CHOP HOUSE FiDi’s Brooklyn Chop House started its free nighttime meal program to serve healthcare workers at their neighborhood hospital, NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan. Since word of their generosity has spread, many other hospitals have reached out to them for help. Today, Brooklyn Chop House is serving approximately more than 2,000 meals each week to over 15 hospitals, including New York Presbyterian, Bellevue Hospital, Mount Sinai, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and others. They have also been delivering to the New York Police Department and Mount Vernon Police Department. “We started with one hospital and it could never have grown this much without our vendors and partners supporting us with donated products from J. Kings, VOSS Water, Four Five Roasters Coffee, Forever Young Wines, Juniors Cheesecake, and more,” says Brooklyn Chop House Director of Operations Stratis Morfogen. To support Brooklyn Chop House, orders may be placed for delivery or take out. The money they make from online orders goes to funding donated meals.
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
HEART OF DINNER After reading and hearing about discrimination against Asian New Yorkers and in particular how Asian seniors needed food assistance, Moonlynn Tsai, co-owner of Kopitiam, and her romantic partner Yin Chang wanted to help. Together, they created Heart of Dinner, which started as a food tour to promote restaurants in Chinatown. When social distancing measures caused restaurants to shut down, they pivoted to providing appropriate meals for Asian seniors in need of assistance. They started a GoFundMe page to receive donations for themselves and their six local restaurant partners, all located within Chinatown and the Lower East Side: Saigon Social, Partybus, Bakeshop, Bessou, Golden Diner, Nom Wah, & 886. Fifteen dollars can feed a senior for a day, but Tsai understands this is a challenging time for many. “For those unable to provide monetary donations and who still want to be a part of Heart of Dinner, we welcome you to create handwritten notes to attach to weekly meals.” Every meal comes with a note to remind these seniors how much they are loved. Scripts can be found on their website, heartofdinner.com. Chef Sam Yoo of Golden Diner, a partner of Heart of Dinner, believes every industry is going to change the way they do business after this pandemic: “We hope it’s the
beginning of a movement for the next wave of entrepreneurs and leaders in business to build in more social good and communitybuilding into their missions.” To donate, visit: gofundme.com/f/heart-of-dinner
SAVOIR FARE | CULTURE
THE GOODS MART
The Goods Mart’s snack boxes can be donated to food bank for new york and area hospitals.
This healthy convenience mart in SoHo is helping healthcare workers and the restaurant business. While they remain open as an essential business, they created Surprise Snack Boxes (think healthy snack care boxes) that they are sending out nationwide. Customers near and far are able to purchase the snack boxes to donate them to a local NYC Hospital or the Food Bank For New York, including Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYU Langone, Mount Sinai, and Montefiore. Even if you choose to purchase a box for yourself, you will be helping out, because 10 percent of sales go to the Restaurant Workers Relief Foundation. “Restaurants are the pulse point of New York and have been hit hard. We work with a handful of restaurant partners in our store, so we felt it was our duty to help in any way we can,” says owner Rachel Krupa. To help out, visit: shop.thegoodsmart.com
ESSEX MARKET Essex Market has been serving lower Manhattan with fresh and affordable food for over 80 years. During the Pause, they launched a campaign called Fresh Food For Our Friends, a way to support the Lower East Side community by donating fruits and vegetables to at-risk seniors and families. They came up with a creative idea to receive donations: people can give directly, or purchase a t-shirt or tote bag featuring custom-made art by artist Massimo Mongiardo. Proceeds from every purchase go toward supplying Lower East Siders with fresh food. To donate, visit: customink.com/fundraising/fresh-food-for-our-friends-in-need
Area fixture Essex Market helps out the community by donating fresh fruits and vegtables, and other staples, to residents in need.
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
CULTURE | SAVOIR FARE
Da Claudio has been sending their delicioius Italian specialties to frontline workers in Lower Manhattan, since the beginning of the pandemic.
DA CLAUDIO In March, the finest Italian restaurant in FiDi reached out to NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital— located down the street from the restaurant, to help with donations. Back then, the hospital was still adjusting the system to receive meals. Thanks to the downtown community, Da Claudio was able to raise revenue not only for their survival but also to help the brave health care front line workers. They had regulars reach out to order meals and some locals donated 50 meals at a time. “It brought that feeling of overwhelming support we felt when we were picking up the pieces when Hurricane Sandy completely destroyed our two storefronts on Front Street, Barbarini,” says Linda Marini, co-owner of Da Claudio, “Da Claudio is the restaurant that we rebuilt with our sweat, tears, and so much financial sacrifice almost 8 years later.” They will have to rebuild again, like many other businesses in New York City, and they count on the supportive Downtown community to come back stronger. Da Claudio is open for outdoor dining and delivery. daclaudionyc.com
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
Classic Harbor Line is eternally grateful to the frontline workers of New York City
Sail-nyc.com | 212-627-1825 Hope to see you aboard soon!
CULTURE | COMFORT FOOD
FEEDING DOWNTOWN Aahar Indian Cuisine
Northern Indian cuisine in TriBeCa. 10 Murray Street aaharny.com
Lower East Side café serving authentic Austrian food and drink. 79 Orchard Street cafekatja.com
Ivan Orkin’s restaurant, featured in Chef’s Table, is located in the Lower East Side 25 Clinton Street ivanramen.com
Rooftop dining featuring individual greenhouses for a socially distanced experience. 100 Broad St. ampianyc.com
Kesté Pizza & Vino
Restaurant and bar in the Seaport District featuring Tex-Mex cuisine. 59 Nassau Street cowgirlseahorse.com
Authentic Neapolitan pizzeria with two locations in Downtown Manhattan. FiDi - 77 Fulton Street; West Village 271 Bleecker Street kestepizzeria.com Donating meals to medical professionals
Aroy Dee Thai
Eataly NYC Downtown
Thai restaurant in the Financial District. 20 John Street aroydeethainyc.com
Italian market with cafes, to-go counters and sit-down restaurants. Four World Trade Center, 101 Liberty St floor 3 eataly.com
Ampia Restaurant & Rooftop
Barbalu Italian restaurant in Seaport District. 225-227 Front Street barbalu.com Donating meals to medical professionals
Benares Tribeca restaurant serving contemporary Indian dishes. 45 Murray Street benaresnyc.com
Bliss Bowl Serving healthy food and drinks with two locations in Downtown Manhattan. Tribeca - 275 Greenwich Street; FiDi - 89 Washington Street blissbowl.com
Bubby’s Serving the best of American comfort food in TriBeCa. 120 Hudson Street bubbys.com
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
El Vez Mexican restaurant with eclectic menu in Tribeca. 259 Vesey Street elveznyc.com
Epistrophy Italian restaurant in Nolita with great cocktails. 200 Mott Street epistrophynyc.com
Kuu Ramen Japanese restaurant in FiDi serving delicious signature ramen. 20 John Street kuuramen.com Donating meals to medical professionals
La Parisienne French café and kitchen in Financial District. 9 Maiden Lane laparisiennenyc.com
Le District’s Liberty Bistro French brasserie in Brookfield Place with a terrace for outdoor seating. 225 Liberty St (Located in Le District) ledistrict.com
Gigino Wagner Park Italian with a beautiful view. 20 Battery Pl. gigino-wagnerpark.com
Gomi Korean Wine Bar Restaurant and wine bar in East Village serving Korean and Brazilian eats. 186 Avenue A gomikoreanwinebar.com Donating meals to medical professionals
Merchant’s River House Bistro dining with Hudson River views 375 South End Avenue Hudson River Esplanade merchantsriverhouse.com
Nom Wah Nolita offshoot of the historic Chinatown original, famous for Dim Sum. 10 Kenmare St nomwah.com/nolita
COMFORT FOOD | CULTURE
THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY remains one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic. The challenges of physical distancing, cleaning, and disinfectin, continue to pose problems even as New York moves into Phase 4 of reopening. Many businesses had to close temporarily and, sadly, others have had to permanently shut their doors. However, plenty of our favorite places to eat in Downtown NYC have remained open or have recently re-opened in an effort to keep serving the community, and to keep their dedicated staff employed. Here is a partial list of some restaurants, bars, and cafes serving great food, that are open for delivery, takeout, and in some cases, outdoor dining. Some of them have also donated or are still donating meals to health care workers and first responders, and they are counting on our help to survive.
Restaurant in FiDi serving Thai and Vietnamese food. 87 Beaver Street obaony.com/home Donating meals to medical professionals
Gluten-Free in the West Village 206 Sullivan Street senzaglutennyc.com
Coffee Shop in West Village also offering household, pantry, grocery, and wellness items. 128 Charles Street theelknyc.com
Springbone Kitchen Restaurant specializing in bone broth and wholesome food. West Village - 90 West 3rd Street; FiDi 74 Pearl Street springbone.com
St. George Tavern
The Grey Dog
Restaurant and bar with eclectic menu in Financial District. 103 Washington Street stgeorgetavernnyc.com
Cafe and coffee shop serving American classics (only the Chelsea location is open right now). 242 W 16th Street thegreydog.com
Tartinary - The Shack
The Hummus & Pita Co.
French cafe-bar serving baked goods and fresh squeezed juices on the waterfront plaza. North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place, 250 Vesey St tartinery.com
Mediterranean restaurant with two locations in Downtown Manhattan. Tribeca - 79 Chambers Street; Chelsea 585 6th Avenue hummusandpitas.com Donating meals to medical professionals
Australian restaurant and cafe. Soho - 219 Mulberry Street and East Village 198 East 11th Street rubyscafe.com Donating meals to medical professionals
The Butcher’s Daughter
Plant-based restaurant and juice bar. Nolita - 19 Kenmare Street and West Village 581 Hudson Street thebutchersdaughter.com
Irish restaurant and pub in FiDi offering only takeout. 95 Pearl Street ulyssesnyc.com
Restaurant serving local seafood, open for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Chelsea - 161 8th Ave; Brookfield Place 250 Vesey Street (check other locations on their website seamores.com
Wizard-themed cocktail bar and gastropub in FiDi 47 Stone Street thecauldron.io/new-york
Traditional Ukrainian restaurant in East Village, open for takeout and outdoor dining. 144 Second avenue veselka.com Donating meals to medical professionals
Pisillo Italian Panini Restaurant and Cafe serving authentic italian sandwiches. Chelsea - 124 West 25th Street; FiDi 97 Nassau Street pisillopanini.com
Pita Press Greek rotisserie in Financial District. 25 Cedar Street pitapress.com
Route 66 Smokehouse Restaurant serving traditional American food in FiDi. 79 Pearl Street route66smokehouse.com
Rooftop mini-lawns and cabanas, with food and drink available for purchase Pier 17, 89 South Street thegreens.pier17.nyc
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
U N C O N V E N T I O N A L
G A L L E RY
RULER was born from a determination to overcome the barriers of elitism and to facilitate a stronger discourse between artists and collectors around the world. We are everything but a standard gallery. We’re open to the public. We’re online. We believe in art for the many, not the few. Chiara Del Vecchio Co-founder
Emanuele Fiore Co-founder
NEW YORK LOFT29, 525 W 29th St. 2nd Floor, 10001 NY
MILAN Via Clusone 6, 20135 Milan, Italy
CULTURE | SUMMER SIPS
It's 5 o'clock somewhere. by Deborah L. Martin Equiano Rum comes from two distilleries and two islands, making it a perfect collaboration of East and West. Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and co-creator of Equiano says, “This is a new style of rum, combining two rum cultures—Africa and the Caribbean. It is an unadulterated rum that is best appreciated the way that YOU like to drink your spirits." This limited batch blend comes from one of the best emerging distilleries in the world, Gray’s in Mauritius, Africa, and the world-renowned Barbadian distillery—Foursquare. Equiano has no spices, colorants, additives or added sugar, and is aged in former Bourbon and Cognac casks. DT
Cooked in our copper kettles, Hilliards Craft Beer Brittle combines the local flavors of their traditional peanut brittle with fresh brewed craft beer from Shovel Town Brewery in Easton, Massachusetts. hilliardscandy.com Take your grilling game to the next level with smoked salts from SaltWorks. Besides Durango Hickory, try Chardonnay Oak, Alderwood, or Yakima Applewood. seasalt.com
IAN BURRELL'S EQUIANO MANHATTAN 2 oz Equiano rum 1 oz Sweet vermouth, preferably Carpano Antica 1/2 tsp Maraschino Liquor 1 dash Angostura Bitters & Orange twist or cherry to serve Stir ingredients vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist or the more traditional cherry.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB MARGARITA By Ute Londrigan, Heimat New York
THE BARONESS 1 oz Gin 1 /2 oz Runamok Strawberry Rose Infused Maple Syrup 1/4 oz Fresh lemon juice Lemon peel for garnish
1.5 oz Strawberries, blended smooth 1.5 oz Heimat New York Rhubarb liqueur 1 tsp Lime juice 1 oz Silver tequila (1 oz equals ~2 tsp) 1-2 tsp Agave nectar (optional) Sea salt to garnish *Ute recommends SaltWorks Lime Fresco Sea Salt - available on SeaSalt.com Run a lime wedge around desired number of glasses and dip in organic salt (or raw cane sugar) and set aside. Add the strawberry blend to a cocktail shaker, along with Rhubarb Liqueur, lime juice, tequila, agave nectar, and a handful of ice. Shake vigorously. Taste and adjust sweetness and acidity as needed. Pour into serving glasses and enjoy!
For a quick sweet treat, St. Pierre Bakery crepes are prepared in the classic Parisian style. They are layered with a smooth Chocolate and hazelnut spread then rolled and individually wrapped. Whip up some cream and serve with an after-dinner cordial. stpierrebakery.com
The first California bottling from Australian winemaker 19 Crimes, is a collaboration with SNOOP DOG. It comes with an app that allows you to share a virtual glass with the legendary rapper, plus a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the NAACP. BACANA, from a familyrun winery in Portugal, is a refreshing blend of small-batch wine and fruit, with a frizzante punch. It comes in rose, white, and red, and is perfect chilled.
Put the gin, Strawberry Rose Infused Maple, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for about 30 seconds, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
LITTLE APPLE | BARCLAY'S SPOT
A CITY ON PAWS by Dan Metz
SINCE MARCH, it has been raining cats and dogs at NYC’s Animal Haven Shelter. The tidal wave of COVID-19 cases that hit New York also flooded their system with abandoned or orphaned pets. To right their ship, Animal Haven launched its “Emergency Action Fund,” a campaign to ensure that they could respond to the flood of rescues brought to their attention. Many pet owners have lost their lives to the virus. Other owners had to leave their homes, relocating to temporary homes where their animal friends weren’t welcome. On one occasion, a Manhattan senior center was forced to move more than 300 residents into private hotel rooms—no pets allowed. Animal Haven came to the rescue, sheltering all of the abandoned pets until their owners could relocate to a place where their furred and feathered friends were welcome. I have been a lucky puppy. I still have my home, my mom, and my Downtown Magazine family. Sadly, many more lost their owners forever and need new families and new homes. Below are some of COVID’s fourlegged refugees. Some have found a home already, but many have not. If you have room in your home and in your heart to adopt a new friend, there are always pets available at Animal Haven. Or you can donate to the wonderful people who find and care for these pets. Visit animalhaven. org/#action or find them on Venmo @AnimalHaven. Follow my adventures on Instagram, @downtownbarclay
WINTER DOMESTIC SHORT HAIR CAT, 8 YEARS OLD
CHOCO CHIHUAHUA, 12 YEARS OLD
Animal Haven saved my nine lives. When my guardian passed away at 82, I had nowhere else to go. A neighbor called Animal Haven and they came to get me. I was so scared--probably because of all of the PPE--but they brought me back with them safely. I am still getting over the fright of being alone, but I think I am ready to find a new family to love.
I was blessed with a big family: a mom and four feline brothers and sisters. Our mom was sick, but she always took the time to care for us. Then COVID started, and mom couldn’t take care of all of us. She gave away my siblings to Animal Haven. She hoped they would find good homes. Then she passed away, and the rest of my family is alone, but together again. We have only one wish: to find a home where all of us can stay together and be a family again.
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
BARCLAY'S SPOT | LITTLE APPLE
THIMBLE, LAB MIX, 8 YEARS OLD
SKY JACK RUSSELL MIX, 4 YEARS OLD
SYDNEY TERRIER MIX, 12 YEARS OLD
I have been a good boy all my life. I am obedient and well-mannered, and given all the love a dog could want. Now my best friend is gone, and I need love more than ever. Do you have room in your home for one more?
When my pawrent had to leave their senior center, I was terrified. They were going to a new place where they would be safe, but I wasn’t allowed to join. Animal Haven took me in, along with dozens of other pets, while we waited for our pawrents to return for us. I already have my happy ending: I was returned to my owner, and we’re both safe and well.
I once was lost, but now I’m found. I spent some serious time on the street, abandoned by my previous owner. I got rescued when a good Samaritan found me in a park and brought me to Animal Haven. I am blind and deaf, but I still have a lot of love to give to a family who wants me.
ROSCOE MASTIFF MIX, 10 YEARS OLD
BO PUG, 10 YEARS OLD
I am a fortunate dog. After my owner passed away from COVID, I was lost. Literally. I ended up in the city shelter before being rescued by Animal Haven. Will you help me find a new home and a family to love me?
My name is Bo. I’m a ten-year-old pug who spent his whole life with my best friend and owner. When they passed away from COVID, I was terrified. I am mostly blind and deaf, and I was afraid that I couldn’t find love again. Thankfully, Animal Haven found a beautiful new family to take care of me!
IF YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE A GIFT, EVERY DOLLAR HELPS! Visit animalhaven.org/#action, click the Donate button in our bio, or find us on Venmo @AnimalHaven.
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Our admiration, gratitude, and support, for our cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s essential workers. Glyph.NYC DESIGN AGENCY
The Front lin ers
Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are always on the frontlines, caring for our loved ones. They are our everyday heroes, but they are also our neighbors, friends, and family. by Deborah L. Martin photography by Andrew Matusik IN APRIL, WHILE NEW YORK CITY WAS STILL the United States epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we were in the throes of planning a story celebrating the hardworking staff of NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. We wanted to show the strength and heroism, but more importantly the humanity, of the people who were the literal frontline in the fight against this mysterious, and deadly, virus. The hospital has been a longtime supporter of our Downtown magazine mission—to celebrate the community and diversity of our beloved downtown neighborhoods. They have always been an integral part of the Lower Manhattan family, even moreso now. We planned a shoot with 33 members of the NewYork-
Presbyterian family, from a chaplain to nurses and doctors to members of the security department and dietitians, and on May 12, we watched as these determined and brave humans— our neighbors and friends—assembled on a cobblestone street in the Seaport, where our intrepid photographer, Andrew Matusik, photographed them from a scissor lift. We then interviewed each of them, and were reminded of what we have always known. The people who devote their lives in service to our health are heroes. They show up every day to keep our hospitals clean and well supplied, to guide our spirits in times of need, to administer medications, innovate treatments, help us breathe, and teach us to walk and live again. Not all heroes wear capes.
FRONT TO BACK, LEFT TO RIGHT, ROW 1: MELISSA BESADA; MONICA HABA; NICHOLAS LAGOFF. ROW 2: BRAD PALISI; HARRY ERO; ROBERT TANOUYE, MD; CARMELA BACANI; ROBERT WEITZMAN; SAMPONG MIREKU. ROW 3: ANTHONY GAGLIARDI, MD; SOPHIA SEERAM; ALIYA GILYAZOVA; BRENNA FARMER, MD; HARJOT SINGH, MD; KALIYA ALFRED. ROW 4: JUAN MEJIA; DARREN JONES; KENNY VENERE; LAUREN STOERGER; RALPH MARRERO. ROW 5: JOAN HALPERN; JUDITH LILAVOIS; LEONARDO GONZALEZ; DANIELLE SPRINGER; VISHWAS (ANAND) SINGH, MD; KRISTINE LEIGH. ROW 6: SETH MANOACH, MD; MICHAEL ORSINI; HELEN CONZA; VALERIE LOUIS; BARBARA ALBA; INGMAR LUDWIG; VINCENT MATHEW. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
FEATURES | THE FRONTLINERS
To Our Friends in the Lower Manhattan Community
The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis the likes of which we have never seen. As the initial epicenter in the United States, New York City has borne unimaginable damage. This virus attacked New Yorkers with ruthless efficiency, resulting in losses that we will mourn for a long time to come. But it has also served to remind us—and the world—that New Yorkers are a different breed. Once again, in a time of profound tragedy, we have shown that we are fighters who may get knocked down, but who always get back up. Our heroic health care workers have been on the front lines of the battle against this virus. While we have always known that they are exceptionally dedicated, skilled, and compassionate professionals, now everyone has come to see their unwavering commitment to helping their patients. Even during the most dire moments, they continued to fight to save every life possible, putting their own health and safety at risk to help others. NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital is a remarkable place. Like all of our hospitals, it exists, above all else, to serve our community. During this crisis, it has been amazing to witness our neighbors galvanize behind the doctors, nurses, and staff and lift their spirits in the darkest days. On behalf of everyone at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and the entire NewYorkPresbyterian family, we thank you for your incredible support of our front-line health care workers. Thank you for the cheers, for the meals, for the words of encouragement and gratitude. Even as we hope that the worst of this crisis is behind us, our mission of delivering exceptional care to the Lower Manhattan community continues. Stay safe,
Steven j. Corwin Steven J. Corwin, MD President & CEO NewYork-Presbyterian
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
Laura L. Forese Laura L. Forese, MD Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer NewYork-Presbyterian
THE FRONTLINERS | FEATURES
The last several months have been trying times for all New Yorkers as we have battled the COVID-19 pandemic together. Despite the challenges and hardships we continue to face, our Lower Manhattan community continues to demonstrate tremendous resilience and perseverance. This community’s ability to overcome adversity is well-known, and it has, once again, been a defining attribute and a source of inspiration for all New Yorkers. During this pandemic, the outpouring of support and love for our hospital has been a constant light. We have received countless donations of food and supplies for our front-line workers. Hundreds of letters expressing gratitude and encouragement are prominently displayed on a special recognition wall for all of our staff to see. Every night at 7 p.m., our teams were recognized and applauded as healthcare heroes by the community at large, including the brave women and men of the FDNY. It’s difficult to fully convey how meaningful this has been to us as we’ve fought side-byside during this pandemic. On behalf of all of us at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, I would like to sincerely thank the entire community for supporting our hospital and staff in so many ways. As we transition to our “new normal,” please know that our commitment to you – to always provide the highest quality and most compassionate care to every member of our community– is unwavering. We look forward to experiencing and celebrating better days ahead with all of you. Sincerely,
Juan Mejia Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital
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Manager, Rehabilitation Services, Rehabilitation Medicine Inpatient and outpatient rehab services including Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Language Pathology. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My role has always been supporting my staff and the needs of the department and institution in order to best serve patients. During this time it was as if the rug was pulled out from under us. My job was to steer the ship so there would be as little trauma to my staff and the patients. I am so thankful that my team was so resilient and really leaned on each other throughout this experience. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I carried a set of clothing to come into work, changed into scrubs while at work and changed again when I was leaving for the day. I was sure to shower as soon as I got home before greeting anyone. I kept a separate spot in my home for my coat and shoes. My biggest concern was that my children, who were pulled out of their school routine and isolated from their friends, would also be worried about me. Turns out they were my biggest cheerleaders and have adapted to the new normal. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? As in many difficult times, it is the anticipation that is the worst part. While you’re in the trenches, you are so present and in the moment, but not knowing how or when it will end is the challenge. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? As a mother of very active ten and seven year olds, my job does not end once I leave the hospital. I would not be able to support my NewYork-Presbyterian family if not for the network of support I receive at home. The one ritual I have established since this began is what my family has coined as “NBN,” or “Nothing Before Noon.” On my days off, coffee is my constant companion while I sit on my back porch, reading and listening to the birds. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? It has made me appreciate how truly gifted my team is as they tirelessly gave their time and energy to save lives. I also realized how much I enjoyed management meetings as we social distance ourselves. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? It seemed like once the mayor announced schools were closed, the flood gates opened up and patients were pouring into the hospital, overwhelming our medical units. Rehab mobilized quickly to the ICU and invested our “muscle” to help manage patients who needed to be repositioned to improve oxygen flow. I was so impressed with the efforts of everyone involved. There were so many additional clinicians who came from all over the institution and country to help. At times, it was very difficult to identify who anyone was due to all of our PPE, but it never really mattered, as we all worked together towards a common goal. I worked side-by-side with wonderful clinicians without ever really getting to see their faces. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced? I have seen such wonderful collaboration across all disciplines, resilience sprinkled with tears, all welcome human emotions. All authentic characteristics of NewYork-Presbyterian and New York’s true bedrock. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? What I miss most really never went away, it was just channeled into a different medium. The energy and unity of NYC really shone through with the nightly “clappy hour” at 7 p.m., followed by our 8 p.m. moment of silence to reflect on those who have lost their lives and for the families who have lost loved ones. As a native New Yorker, I have never been so proud!
Sampong Mireku 50
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Respiratory Therapist, Respiratory Therapy A respiratory therapist is on the interdisciplinary team that manages oxygenation, invasive, and non-invasive ventilation. Our goal is to properly restore a patient’s ability to breathe again. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Listening to motivational speakers has been helpful in dealing with mental stress during this difficult time. YouTube has many videos of speakers, my favorites include “It’s time to leave your comfort zone” and “Use your mind to change your life” by Les Brown, and “Beautiful minds are free from fear” by Robert Grant on TEDx Talks. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? As a frontline respiratory therapist, I was aware that I might get exposed to the COVID-19 virus, and as such I took steps to not have physical contact with my children and I only talked to them through video chats. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult aspect of this situation is not seeing my kids, and the number of people who have lost loved ones in such a short time. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? This pandemic has really made me very proud about my choice of career as a respiratory therapist. I am fortunate to be part of an excellent team of respiratory therapists, doctors, nurses, and other professionals and disciplines working together to save lives.
DR. SETH MANOACH MD Director, Medical Intensive Care Unit, New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital/ Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine I am an intensive care unit physician. I care for the sickest patients, many of whom require life support; including ventilators, dialysis machines, multiple medications, and other interventions. In my leadership role, I am responsible for the overall care of all patients admitted to the ICU, and for interfacing with many other departments. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My job has changed significantly. In the ICU we have not only been caring for individual patients but increasing our capacity, team building, converting other hospital rooms and facilities to optimize them for the pandemic. We work closely with our nurses, respiratory therapists, physician assistants, and members of our facilities, laboratory and administrative team. And finally, after a long siege, we are beginning to pivot toward the care we normally provide for critically ill patients. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I have two adolescent boys and my wife is also a doctor. I am a middleaged man with a few “pre-existing conditions” so I am much more likely to get very sick from this. I am careful to keep my hands sanitized. I take my work clothes off in the bathroom, shower, get into “home scrubs” and eat dinner. I did make a list of folks I wanted my family to contact in case I got sick and died. I made out a little will about what items the kids would get if I passed away. I let them know I love them and ask them to remember the good things I’ve taught them and to ignore my abundant hypocrisy and shortcomings. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Getting in the ocean with my board and wetsuit, and civilizing rituals like watching the News Hour on Channel 13. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I have never for a day questioned being a doctor, though I have sometimes feared not being up to the job. This has strengthened my commitment to medicine, to leadership in medicine, and has made me admire the heroism of my colleagues. We all have skin in the game with this disease but it’s fair to say that nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeeping staff and others are putting way more on the line than the doctors do. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Don’t underestimate it. It kills unlike any infectious disease I have seen in my 25-year career, and it kills in numbers. Even here, in the epicenter, it is impossible for folks who don’t spend time in the ICU or ER to imagine the sheer destructiveness of this illness. What do you miss most about preCOVID New York City? Being (more) free.
BARBARA ALBA, PH.D Director of Nursing for Maternal Child Health, Nursing As Director of Nursing across areas of labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care, my primary focus in managing all operations is two-fold, that of patient care and experience. In addition, I’m also responsible for maintaining the well-being and growth of all staff within my departments. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Everyone’s job has changed. Everything we were used to doing ceased and priority was given to the task at hand. Sometimes I think this was God’s way of saying, “Everyone check yourselves and see what’s really important.” How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? Social distancing doesn’t stop just because you go home. Separation from family and friends has been a part of this pandemic. You always think of the what ifs—what if I give it to a loved one, what if I give it to my dog, what if I’m asymptomatic and I’m spreading disease? Going home becomes very isolating and lonely, but necessary. Love takes on a different meaning. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Watching death numbers rise while wondering if we will ever be the same again and wondering if I or someone I love will be one of the numbers. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Trying to maintain some sense of normal at home has helped. As silly as it sounds, activities such as food shopping and getting gas became the simple pleasures. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? This has remained unchanged for me. I chose to be a nurse and treasure every day with the opportunity to be one. I am so proud of our profession and of all the nurses who rose to the occasion excelling at what they do best…caring. I wouldn’t change a thing. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? I will take with me the strong sense of teamwork and collaboration experienced during it. I always felt the sense of “team” here at LMH, but the crisis we faced strengthened it even more. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? It’s all real. Everything you saw or heard on the news is real. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? We celebrated Nurses Week. It allowed all of us to take a breather, celebrate each other and be proud of our history. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? People, food, noise, faces without masks, and safety.
Dr.Barbara Alba THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
FEATURES | THE FRONTLINERS DARREN JONES Lead Housekeeper, Environmental Service Maintain cleanliness and sanitization of the hospital. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? A day in my work life is very busy and stressful. Cleanliness is very important to stop the spread of infection and protect patients and staff, so it adds a level of stress that wasn’t there before. I did more in terms of detail cleaning, which is tougher due to the additional PPE I needed to wear. Sometimes I would change curtains and clean windows endlessly to make sure everything was sanitary for the next patient. Typical tasks became challenging due to constant, new information we learned about this virus. Still, the team worked tirelessly to make sure we were all safe. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? When I go home, I make sure I quickly change my clothes, wash my hands and take a shower every day to ensure I’m clean before I see my family. I speak with them regularly about what I’ve learned about how to protect myself in terms of wearing a mask and washing their hands, because my girlfriend goes out into the community to pick up food and essentials. We maintain social distancing in the house, as well. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Not being able to see my grandchildren. I love taking them to the movies. We understand that this is temporary, but it is still very difficult, for me and for them as well. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I speak to a counselor once a week. We talk about things that are causing stress and how to cope. My friends at work are also there for each other. We all are going through similar challenges, and it’s good to know I have that support system in place. At night sometimes I sit at home and read my bible, which helps me maintain my faith during this time. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I know I’ve made the right career choice. I knew I was here to serve patients, but this pandemic has made me realize that I’m here for everyone. Our leadership team has been very supportive and allowed me the flexibility to do anything that needs to get accomplished. I think we have done a great job of keeping our hospital very clean for our patients and staff. Have you discovered new ways of doing things that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? We realized that we were cleaning and sanitizing so much that our floors were clean but looked dull. We put some new floor wax down, which holds up better to the constant sanitizing and is much easier to maintain. On a personal note, I’ve taken life much more seriously since this pandemic started. I’m blessed to have such a loving family that has maintained its health and strength while others have not been so lucky. I’ve also learned to cut my hair. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss seeing people in the street. I loved seeing tourists in my city and taking pride in knowing that they wanted to see the city that I live in and love. I miss seeing my grandkids in the park and sitting on the bench in the sun watching them.
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KRISTINE LEIGH Administrator, Patient Services Provide support to patients and families during their hospitalization and promoting a positive hospital experience. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My day begins with making bereavement calls. I contact the families of deceased patients to offer my condolences and support, provide funeral home information, and answer any questions families may have. I work with the care teams of imminently dying patients to help facilitate an in-person visit with one family member. I meet the visitor and provide comfort and answer questions. If family is unable to visit, a virtual visit is offered. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I have a separate coat and purse I use for work. When I get home, I change out of my work clothes and leave them in the basement. I spray my clothes with Lysol and take a hot shower and use disinfecting wipes to clean my personal and work cell phone. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Not being able to hug to a crying family member when a loved one has passed, due social distancing guidelines, and informing patients who have a large family that only one person is allowed to have a one-time visit to keep everyone safe. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Daily yoga, praying, peer support, and daily communication with loved ones. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I chose the healthcare field to care for others and make a difference. The teamwork I have experienced at NYP is amazing. We have cried, laughed, and survived together. I also have formed new friendships with other NYP departments from working so closely together with colleagues throughout the hospital. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Complete a health care proxy form and state your medical wishes so friends and families can be prepared. COVID-19 can bring a new onset of medical problems that a person never had before. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? When the revised visitation policies took effect, innovative ways were established for families to stay in touch with their loved ones using Facetime on hospital iPads. We heard from families who shared they were grateful for this. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? The liveliness of the city and going out to dinner at a restaurant.
THE FRONTLINERS | FEATURES SOPHIA SEERAM
Dietary Aide, Food and Nutrition Assist with preparing meal trays for the patients. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Since the pandemic, each day presents a new challenge. These challenges are what motivate us. The rapid influx of patients during these past few months created a faster paced workplace environment. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? In addition to practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask in public, and washing my hands for at least 20 seconds, I spend more time checking on the well-being of my family members, elderly neighbors and listening to the concerns of my friends and colleagues, as this virus can affect a person’s mental health as well. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult thing, personally, is to lose someone to this virus and be in fear that it can take the life of someone you love. It’s also difficult not being able to celebrate life events, like birthdays, holidays or other social gatherings because those who have the coronavirus may be asymptomatic. But it helps that our smart phones allow us to have face-to-face conversations with the ones we miss. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Fortunately, we live in a time where there are many available resources to channel emotional stress. I meditate daily and practice yoga whenever I feel overwhelmed. I changed my diet and I exercise more. I bought a fitness tracker that monitors my sleep patterns, as sleep impacts overall health. The hospital also provides counseling and other resources to help us cope with this pandemic. I also have great friends and concerned family members who call or message every day to check in with me. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I am proud of the work that I do and honored to be working alongside a great team of health care professionals having this shared experience. Though the feelings vary with each individual, what remains constant is our commitment to our patients, making sure they get the very best care. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an insider perspective? Being admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19 may carry a negative connotation, but we have had many success stories where patients come in gravely ill but are released after a short time with a clean bill of health. That’s the most rewarding part of this job: to see someone we cared for walk out of here healthy and into the arms of their family members. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you may have experienced through your work at this hospital? The most positive thing I’ve experienced through this hospital is having great co-workers and an amazing leadership team. What do you miss the most of the pre-COVID New York City? New York is known for its iconic sounds, the honking of city cabs, chatter of multiple languages, and footsteps on the street. The city is now eerily quiet. I miss the crowds, the smell of coffee and pastries. I miss being able to give someone a hug without the fear of spreading something that, even with preventative measures, may still pose a threat. However, I am optimistic that New York City will come alive again and I look forward to it.
Patient Transporter, Patient Transportation Transport patients to various locations throughout the hospital. A patient transporter job requires patience. So you always have to be ready mentally and physically and have the most respectful manner at all times. We make sure the patients feel safe during their time with us. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? At NYP, you always have to be prepared for anything and always stay positive. One of the biggest changes has been wearing a mask at work at all times since the outbreak. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? How I keep my family safe is by always being distant from them. No hugs, no close talking, just being distant. Also never wear the same clothes or shoes at home that I work in. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? One of the most difficult things during this time has been moving patients who tested positive for COVID-19 because you have to wear the proper PPE and move around the hospital with the patient being cautious of those around us. How are practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I have been mentally strong and happy to be here. The biggest thing is just staying safe at all times and being cautious of yourself and surroundings. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I honestly can say that I am thankful to be here because I fought through the COVID-19 pandemic and being able to help all my colleagues through this hard time is great. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? We will also wear masks not just at NYP but also outside in my regular life. Maintain distance from others on the street because I use public transportation to commute. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? This disease is not a joke. People should not walk around New York City without a mask or walk around in groups, especially if you have not been around these same people for weeks. Describe a positive ora uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. Patients can be scared when they are being admitted to the hospital. I work to make them feel more at home and try to be positive for them. It’s uplifting anytime a patient thanks us for helping them when we are transporting them to their room. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? The one thing that I miss the most about pre- COVID-19 is walking around everywhere in the city, now you are limited with what you can do and where you can go. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
KENNY VENERE Physical Therapist, Rehabilitation Acute care physical therapists assess the functional mobility and physical status to help rehabilitate patients. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? The Rehabilitation Department has placed a greater emphasis on the patients in the intensive care unit. In the early surge when we had a lot of seriously ill patients we focused on minimizing nursing burden, helping with positioning to reduce the risk of skin breakdown, while also leading the proning team to position patients who have severe acute respiratory distress syndrome on their stomachs. As the curve flattens, we continue to help with getting people back to living their lives—whether by keeping people moving while ventilated, progressing their strength and independence on the medical floors, or helping coordinate the safest discharge plan. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I’m fortunate that my parents and my sister are a safe distance away in the Boston area. My mom is probably frustrated that after living out West for a few years this pandemic in NYC has had me visiting less than when I was 3,000 miles away. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic—relating to how my friends and family are, how my patients are doing, and on a grander scale of how our community and society will adapt and rebound. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? Routine is essential for me, from making coffee in the morning to trying to go to bed at the same (embarrassingly early) time, having that structure and familiarity is helpful. With gyms being closed I’ve started running more which has been humbling. My family and friends (both inside and outside of the hospital) have been immensely important in maintaining a semblance of normalcy and coping with stress. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? It’s always about the relationships, whether with patients or co-workers. That is what keeps you going to work every day, particularly in a time as difficult as this one. Seeing our hospital rise to the occasion has been inspiring. There is a special sense of community given the size of our hospital which has been strengthened now. Our managers have showed agile leadership throughout, placing trust in our team to adapt and self-organize. I’m thankful to be here and I can do what I do because of the people around me. Have you discovered new ways of doing
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things that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? This time has affirmed the importance of humanizing healthcare. Our patients are incredibly sick and scared, and in order to keep their families safe, have to be without visitors. We are fortunate to be in a position to help these people with the little things—whether that’s setting up a FaceTime call with family, putting some of their favorite music on, getting them a cup of coffee, holding their hand, or helping them brush their teeth. Anything we can do to make them feel a little less alone is of utmost importance. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? That the struggle doesn’t end once patients are doing well enough to come off of the ventilator. People in the intensive care unit are the sickest in the hospital and paradoxically they are the ones who often have the least support once they leave. There are well established pathways for people after conditions like heart attack or stroke, but as it stands the existence of specialized post-critical care is sorely limited across the world. These are people with profound physical, mental, and neurocognitive deficits that can persist many years after their hospitalization and we have to support them more. To paraphrase the title of an editorial from Dr. Jack Iwashyna out of Michigan, survivorship is the defining challenge of critical care in the 21st century and will need to be a focal point of this pandemic. I hope that a silver lining of this crisis is that it places a sharp focus on critical care survivorship and how we can help these people survive critical illness and thrive after it. Describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. Any time you see someone go from being critically ill on a ventilator, to sitting in a chair, standing up, walking, and ultimately getting out of the hospital is uplifting. The experiences that will stick with me are seeing the actions of my coworkers— I watched my colleague hold the hands of countless patients who were intubated and sedated. Another colleague, going above and beyond as she always does, made a point to play music on her phone for patients and always made time to FaceTime with patients’ family members to make sure they were kept in the loop. These are “little things” in the context of critical care but I think they encapsulate perfectly what is most important in healthcare. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? The coffee shops, the barbershops, the restaurants, all of the local businesses that make this city what it is. It’s a difficult time for them too. It’s been nice to see some of my favorite local spots adapt to these uncertain circumstances.
ROBERT WEITZMAN Director of Operations, Hospital Administration Under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, my role is to develop, implement, and oversee efficient hospital operations to deliver high quality and compassionate patient-centered care. As the Director of Operations, I served as the Incident Commander for the COVID-19 response at NewYork Presbyterian Lower Manhattan. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? As the Incident Commander and as a leader, my priority was to make sure the hospital had all the necessary resources in order to respond to this fiercely growing pandemic. No one could have predicted the enormity of the impact COVID-19 would have on our city, as the virus continued to claim lives over the course of many months. I realized that I had to shift gears and approach this pandemic as less of a sprint, and more like a marathon. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I draw inspiration from the front line employees saving lives each and every day. I have a duty to provide these heroes with every possible resource to keep themselves and patients safe. I have exposure to a number of different areas such as our Emergency Department, our ICU, and sadly, our morgue. As a result, I have quarantined myself from my family and my two daughters for months. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? What kept me restless during each night was making sure we had adequate PPE for staff and equipment for patients. On an extremely personal level, the inability to hold my young daughters, even to this day, has been excruciating. My oldest has respiratory issues, and I refuse to place her in harm’s way. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Lately, I have been taking long walks along the Hudson River. It’s a reminder that nature, overall, is quite beautiful. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I am both humbled and proud to be in a position to support patient care during this crisis. Having spent the early parts of my career in finance, the feeling of dealing with client portfolios pales in comparison to developing strategies and operationalizing plans to help save lives. I marvel at my clinical partners’ devotion to their profession as they place patient care before anything else, day in and day out, which was truly highlighted during this pandemic. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? There are silver linings to this event, as desperation breeds ingenuity. The rapid innovations that have resulted from this virus include the ability to instantly create surge spaces that have not previously existed and the benefits of virtualizing aspects of our operations. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? There are those that believe this virus isn’t as deadly as advertised and at some point this will be proved or disproved mathematically. What we as insiders have witnessed, however, is that this disease can attack rapidly and viciously. It is crucial to maintain the safety guidelines put forth by the CDC while we are still learning about COVID-19. Describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. The community outpouring of support is the memory I will most cherish. When we were enduring our darkest moments, we found strength in “clappy hour” at 7 p.m. each day. Our friends in the FDNY, NYPD, residents at Southbridge Towers and neighboring buildings applauded our front-line employees outside our Gold Street entrance. The staff felt as if they were stars and, indeed, they are. The donations of food and other products and services were fielded by our command center at a rapid rate and encouraging letters arrived in droves. The measure of appreciation from communities near and far were among the most treasured and uplifting memories of COVID-19. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I have to admit, I used to grumble at the noise when children were dismissed from nearby schools. Today, I long for children laughing and playing in our William Street plaza!
HARRY ERO Distribution Supervisor, Supply Chain Oversee medical supply deliveries to all units, as well as receiving and oxygen tank deliveries. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Our job has not changed in that we deliver medical supplies to the hospital units on a daily basis. Our team is extremely focused on maintaining proper levels of PPE throughout this pandemic and providing a safe interaction with patients and staff. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? More hand washing, wearing masks while outside in stores, and not gathering in crowds. Maintaining distance from older family relatives. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Not being able to gather with family, socialize with friends, eat out at a restaurant, go to a baseball game or coach my Babe Ruth baseball team. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Relaxing at home and listening to music. Exercising is a very good way of relieving stress. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? This is why I chose the supply chain field: to provide the medical products for our staff and patients. My colleagues have been awesome. From our materials management associates to our site manager and procurement staff. All have been instrumental in providing the materials needed to ultimately get our patients well and home to their families. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? Yes, continuing collaboration with all services in the hospital and maintaining that team concept. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? That this is real. Our doctors and staff are here to provide the utmost care for patients. Describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. I have experienced how our hospital family have become even closer. We are truly a family in every sense of the word. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Family and friend gatherings. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
JOAN HALPERN, MS, RNC, NNP, NEA-BC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Nursing Responsible for the administration of the Department of Nursing and patient care services. In my role, I direct overall planning, strategy and management for the assigned departments to establish professional practice, clinical excellence, quality patient care outcomes and alignment with the mission, vision and values of the organization. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? I have always been a problem-solver in my work life. However, with COVID-19, I now face different challenges every day that none of us could have imagined four months ago. I work with my team to overcome these challenges and try to apply the same principles that I always have in leading my team. Frequent and transparent communication is especially important right now, so I make it a point of duty to do this as often as I can. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? Infection control has always been at the forefront of nurses’ roles, but now it extends beyond the four walls of the hospital. I use my professional background and expertise when thinking about keeping my family safe, including hand hygiene and preventing transmission of droplet particles. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? I think the most difficult thing about this situation for me as a Chief Nursing Officer is seeing the traumatic impact this has had on the hospital employees. The physical toll has been intense, but I think it is the emotional toll that we will be seeing for months, if not years, to come. We have seen so many patients pass away without the comfort of having their loved ones physically close to them. It has taken a toll when the nurses and employees are the ones who have had to fill that role, over and over, while still doing the best they can to save patients’ lives. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Nursing has always been a high-stress profession, so during these times, it is even more important to practice self-care to prevent burnout. I try to be accessible to hospital employees as much as possible, but sometimes I must arrange coverage so that I can turn my phone off and take a break. In the early days of the pandemic, I underestimated how badly that was needed and how important it was, but now I make it a point to ensure I am getting some time to myself away from work. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I could not be prouder to be a nurse right now. Nurses have always been heroes, but I feel our profession has truly stepped up to the plate during this pandemic, on a global scale. We make up the largest group of frontline health care workers. Additionally, we have also taken a huge role in leading our country and the world in navigating a complex and challenging health issue. We are at the patients’ bedside 24/7, so we see it all first, and by sharing these observations early and often, we make a difference in the ability of others to be more prepared and to take better care of their patients. Before 2020 was “the Year of COVID-19”, it was “The Year of the Nurse”. I think nurses are ready to take 2020 back! Have you discovered new ways of doing things that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? It has been surprising how innovation has continued to thrive during this time. We have discovered more efficient ways of arranging patient rooms and equipment to support surges in patient volume. We have also seen benefits in the ways we have had to restructure our staffing models. Frontline nurses have been instrumental in these discoveries. Their ideas about how to care for patients while limiting their exposure to the virus have been implemented and will continue to be. We have also found that training health care workers to take on different roles and types of patient assignments has been beneficial. This will be integral in training plans moving forward so that our workforce is flexible and prepared to take on similar challenges in the future. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? It can happen to anyone. We have seen young, previously healthy patients affected by this virus, and it is devastating. Guidelines from healthcare experts need to be taken seriously. Can you describe a positive or
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uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? There have been countless times when my heart has been warmed during this time. The community support has been incredible. We are touched by every single letter and phone call that comes in, and we appreciate all of it. The 7 p.m. ritual of clapping for healthcare heroes and other essential workers chokes me up every time I hear and see it. Seeing our neighbors come out to cheer us on and make us feel good is amazing. It is a relatively small gesture, but it has had an incredible impact on all of us here in the hospital. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? —I certainly miss the vibrancy and life of the busy New York City streets. The quiet has such an eerie quality. However, I know it is just a matter of time before NYC will see her people come alive again!
LAUREN STOERGER, MSN, RN Director of Nursing for Emergency, Critical Care & Medical Surgical Services, Nursing Clinical and operational oversight of nursing for Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments, Intensive Care Unit, and Medical-Surgical Units. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I have two boys (2 years and 12 years) and my husband also works in healthcare. I knew when we started to see more patients and the situation was evolving quickly that I would need to work longer hours. We decided the 3rd week of March that it would be best to have our kids go to my parent’s farm in Illinois and made arrangements to drive halfway there to meet them for the drop-off. We were separated for almost a month. It was challenging to be away from them for so long, but I tried to stay focused on all of the extra time they had with their grandparents, which was truly a silver lining in this. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I feel that I am one of the lucky ones. As a nurse each day I wake up and get to do something I absolutely love, something I would chose again and again. Each day I get to work alongside colleagues who inspire me to dig deeper, to keep pushing further, and to keep reaching higher. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Please stay home. Please continue to be responsible with social distancing. Covid-19 will not go away unless we work together as a society and prevent further spread. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? It was aweinspiring to stand in front of our team at huddle each morning or evening. The volume and complexity of the patients that we were seeing during the height of the surge was very challenging but the team never gave up. You could see on their faces that they were sometimes frightened, exhausted or overwhelmed at what the day and night would bring but every member of my team kept coming to work each day. They even came in on days off to work overtime to help. Everyone knew that if we continued to work together we could get through this and we could ensure our patients had the very best care. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I am a foodie and miss dining at all of my favorite restaurants the most.
ALIYA GILYAZOVA, RN, BSN
Registered Nurse, Nursing Work on the operating room team as a scrub nurse in all specialties such as Orthopedics and Spine, Neurology, Gynecology and Vascular Surgery. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Operationally, our Perioperative Department has changed, the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) was converted into an ICU and the ASU (Ambulatory Surgical Unit) was converted into a main PACU. Our team was deployed to multiple areas around the hospital, and we adjusted our shifts, took on patient assignments, and learned new equipment. Teamwork, collaboration, and courage have been the foundation for the extraordinary response to the COVID-19 crisis. There are times when my work feels like a never ending battle. But every day I am inspired by how different team members have joined forces to support each other. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? My routine still consists of constant washing, scrubbing of hands and use of Purell, then of course after work changing clothes and taking shower as soon as I come home. My family lives in a different country. It breaks my heart to see them worry and not being able to visit them. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult thing during this time was caring for someone for weeks only to lose to the battle. It’s also hard being apart from family and friends, putting your own fear aside and staying strong for your patients. How are you practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I try to keep my immune system strong by resting, exercising, drinking a lot of warm fluids with lemon, garlic, honey, herbs and ginger, breathing hot humidified air, practicing meditation and FaceTiming with family. Our team’s unwavering commitment to each other’s well-being shined. Daily in-person and virtual huddles, weekly emails, and leadership rounding was coupled with gestures of appreciation. To conclude each week, the team takes a moment to recognize challenges, moments of success, and vows to recharge, emphasizing the importance of self-care. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? It made me so proud of my colleagues and of myself and further grounded my choice of career. We received so much support at 7:00 p.m. each day. The applause reminds us every day that the job we do is appreciated and very much needed. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I want people to realize that this virus is serious, and the fight is not easy. This is a smart virus, and we are really working hard to outsmart it. We are losing patients and family members; we are quarantining and sacrificing so much as we continue to battle. We just need to come out of this learning how important the simple things in life are, and continue being cautious about our health and wellbeing. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? I have experienced amazing humanity, sacrifice, professionalism and support. The ICU has been my new “home,” here, all members—including nurses, attending physicians, residents, physician assistants, therapists, support staff —are constantly checking in with each other to see where help is needed. It feels like we are all connected to the same brain. When you hear a machine beep in a patient’s room on the other side of the ICU, you run over to check on the patient and your colleague. When your colleague is busy, you step in before they even need to ask. My passion for my patients has grown stronger. We are the support system, so finding the time to hold their hand, celebrate their birthday, or ensure they connect to their family via FaceTime is of great importance. Each day in the ICU is a challenge. But the strength of the team allows us to fight harder than I ever thought possible. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss simple chats during brunches with friends in the park. I miss breathing that fresh air without a mask. I miss hugs; oh how do I miss that human touch. I miss my busy NYC with people running into each other without a terrified face. I miss my gym. I miss the busy restaurants and yoga with people in the park. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
MICHAEL J. ORSINI
Supervisor, Chemistry and Hematology, Laboratory Services Manage the Chemistry and Hematology Laboratory Departments. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? It was imperative that patient specimens were processed in a timely manner. The staff banded together to keep the lab going, working tirelessly and providing results for clinicians to diagnose and treat patients accordingly. It was such an exemplary and heartwarming display of teamwork. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? For me, it was ensuring that I not only kept myself safe, but also kept others safe from me. Understanding that keeping up with good hygiene and social distancing goes a long way to help everyone in the long run. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Falling ill from COVID-19 myself was probably the most difficult. It was a scary time as there’s just so much unknown about it. While I thankfully only presented with a milder set of symptoms, isolation was another beast in itself. I felt alone and at times panicked, wondering what would happen if my symptoms took a turn for the worse and I was by myself. But staying in touch with loved ones through video chat, having them check up on me helped tremendously. I am endlessly thankful for the support system in my life. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Consistently practicing yoga has helped me stay grounded. I allow myself one hour a day to mentally tune into my breath and my body to keep my mind from overly worrying about what’s to come. Always remembering to take it one day at a time. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? This is a life changing event for many of us, but it also serves as a reminder of why we do, what we do. We’re here to care for those who need it and selflessness is part of the job. Years from now, I can look back proudly and say I was part of the team of heroes who fearlessly faced COVID-19 head on. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Wear a mask, practice social distancing, stay home when you can. It really does work! What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss New Yorkers. New York is not New York without its people. The hustle and bustle is what makes this city so unique and great. When New York went quiet, it was like I was transported to another planet. But I know we will rally. New York and New Yorkers always come through.
Operations Manager and Supervising Pharmacist, Pharmacy Oversees operations of NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital’s pharmacy, and provides direct supervision and training for the pharmacy staff on a day-to-day basis. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Now I spend less time at meetings and more time trying to procure needed medications and supplies, many that have been in short supply throughout the country. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult thing about this situation is making sure my family is safe. My daughter is a student in London so not having her home has been stressful. Second is seeing to it that my team remains safe, especially my technicians who spend a lot of time on the nursing units delivering medications and stocking automated dispensing cabinets. How are you coping and practicing mental selfcare during this stressful time? I have a punching bag in my garage. Boxing is very therapeutic. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I’ve been a pharmacist for 35 years. I lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic, SARS, Ebola, and various other outbreaks over the years. This is my job. Patients rely on me to be there. They rely on my staff to be there. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? We have been able to have some pharmacists on a rotating basis verify orders remotely from home. We have also had some technicians work adjusted shift schedules. This has all helped since the Pharmacy is a small space and we’ve been able to make it easier to socially distance the staff while still providing the needed services. This form of scheduling will continue at least for the foreseeable future. Describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. That no matter what, with few exceptions, my team has been here every day and has performed far above expectations. Whatever has been thrown at them, they have handled. The number of sterile compounds we needed to make increased 3 to 4 times normal per day, they handled it. They were involved in investigational studies for the first time ever and they handled it. Two additional automated dispensing cabinets had to be built in record time and they handled it. They stuck together, worked together, and handled it.
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Sergeant, Security Department Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Like all of our employees, I must wear a mask at all times, which includes entry and exit of the hospital. The security team and I must enforce social distancing and proper mask wear. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? During this time, I have had to change my routine to keep myself and my family safe by removing my gloves and mask before entering my home. Additionally, I cannot immediately enjoy quality time and interaction with my family. I must thoroughly sanitize all of my personal items taken to and from work as well as shower thoroughly. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most challenging thing about the COVID-19 pandemic was seeing the daily increase in those infected1 and the many who have passed. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? During this stressful time, I have been practicing mental self-care by spending quality time with my family and exercising. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? During the pandemic, I couldn’t have been more proud of the career I have chosen and working alongside my colleagues. This sorrowful time of separation has ironically bonded the hospital team together more than ever. We are collectively coming together to make sure all staff is well and safe, while continuing to make our patients our top priority and providing the best care. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insidera” perspective? I would like people to know that NewYork-Presbyterian staff is taking all the necessary precautions to keep patients and their families safe. Describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital. A positive thing I experienced during this time has been strengthening the bond with the hospital personnel and coming together to provide our patients with the best care. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss people laughing and enjoying their time with friends and family throughout the great city of New York.
Chaplain, Pastoral Care and Education Taking care of the religious, spiritual, and emotional needs of patients, families and staff. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Usually, I see patients in their rooms, but during the pandemic, I have seen them through glass doors and prayed with them on the phone. In light of the visitation restrictions, in-person interactions have become Zoom meetings or phone calls. I visit many dying patients, but during this crisis, relatives could not be present. I can recall a silence that was only interrupted by the activities of the nurses. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? My coming home routine is very intense, and my children can’t come near me until I am finished. My wife sewed masks for the whole family and my department. My children learned to wear masks even though they are very young. I go in in the morning for staff support and meditations. During the day, I am usually home and assist my children with their schoolwork. In the afternoon I go back to the hospital to support staff or call patients and their relatives. Split shifts make my day much longer, but it gives me the opportunity to be with my children. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? I struggle the most with so many family members being unable to say goodbye to their loved ones, a crucial part of the grieving process. Feeling their helplessness, sadness and despair is hard. I try to be a surrogate family member for the patient. and I pray and am present with them. After these visits, I provide the families with emotional and spiritual support. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? I started running and biking again. Playing with my children and watching television (not related to the pandemic) helps a lot. Prayers help me hand the hard things over to God. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? The hospital staff have come closer together standing in this storm. The pandemic has highlighted for me that I am called to be a chaplain. Describe a positive thing you have experienced through your work at the hospital. Comradery with the hospital staff. Every evening firefighters and others have come to the Gold Street entrance, and it feels good to be supported by these brave men and women. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Being able to go to crowded places without any fear. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
HELEN M. CONZA Clinical Nutrition Supervisor, Clinical Nutrition Responsible for the complete supervision and coordination of all clinical functions, inpatient and outpatient, and for community outreach programs. Serves as a vital member of the health care team and is also responsible for providing high quality nutritional care to inpatients. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Half of my staff is telecommuting and half is in-house. This is done on a weekly basis. This requires a morning meeting via Webex to review workloads and reassign patients. Dietitians are limiting their entrance into rooms of patients with COVID-19 in order to conserve PPE and limit the number of contacts and exposures. I have been helping to check drips and pumps. There are no longer in-person meetings and much of the time in the beginning of the crisis was spent helping staff to feel as protected and safe as possible. Nationally, there were also concerns of running low on certain supplies; fortunately, NewYork-Presbyterian provided the means necessary to source the right products and supplies so that we were never without what we needed. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? : At home it is just my husband and myself. I have begun walking over a mile and a half to the PATH train to avoid taking multiple means of transportation. When I come home, I wash my hands, remove my clothes, shower and take my temperature. Then I usually exercise and then have to shower again. My clothes are kept separate and washed separately. I wipe down my shoes before putting them away and wipe down all surfaces that may have been touched. We are overall just very, very careful. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Initially everything was difficult. I used to just come home and go into the bathroom and cry. I have never seen people deteriorate so quickly and be so ill. For me, the most difficult part has been the indefinite change in life as we know it and not being able to spend time with family and friends. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I really enjoy eating and exercise. I have been doing zoom workout classes with my friends and riding my indoor bike. We cook almost every single day and weekly we try a new recipe like homemade bagels, salmon with avocado mousse, or curried meatballs. Also, spending time talking with close family and friends has helped a lot. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? It has put a lot of things into perspective. More than ever, it has helped me to see the relevance of my job and make me grateful for my chosen career. Hearing the mayor list registered dietitians as essential COVID-19 staff was a very validating moment in the dietetics world. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? I think the increased use of telehealth will be a permanent change in health care. It was already rising in use, but this has expedited access to many providers. Also, the relevance of cluster care, doing several routine tasks together rather than spread out over time, has increased efficiency and I think will continue to be thought about when evaluating processes. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I think it is important for people to understand that this is very real. I know that staying home can be “boring,” but by staying home and practicing social distancing you are easing the burden on the healthcare system as a whole and keeping your loved ones safe. Also, know that everyone who steps foot in this building every day is doing so to help another person and to keep everyone safe. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Seeing everyone come together and support one another has been one of the best experiences. Nurses, doctors, support staff, everyone is working towards a common goal. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? As a dietitian, I would have to say the food scene. I miss going out to eat and sharing meals with friends. As a runner, I miss the racing community. Two half marathons and other small races have been missed this year, and I wonder if the full marathons will happen. I haven’t been running, I’ve sort of lost the drive along with the anxiety of being on crowded streets and wearing a face covering. I miss the comradery, but I know being born and raised in NYC, that we will persevere and we will come back better than we were before.
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Registered Nurse, Labor and Delivery Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Everyday there are new changes with COVID-19. Supporting mothers through such a difficult time really showed me how strong birthing people are. It can be challenging to stay up to date with the new guidelines each day, and we are doing all we can to keep ourselves and our patients safe. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? To keep my family safe, I have been doffing my scrubs at the front door when I arrive home and hopping straight in to the shower. I leave my shoes that I wear at work at the hospital and do my best to not bring anything home - not only from the hospital but from the train too. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Meditating and going to therapy to talk through the difficulties of being a healthcare provider during this pandemic. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? Grateful to be able to support birthing individuals during such a stressful time. Also very grateful to have chosen a career that allows me to feel useful during this pandemic. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Every night at 7 p.m. the fire department gathers in front of the hospital and salutes healthcare heroes. It has been touching to see other frontline workers showing gratitude for each other. It really shows that our community is gathering around to support us during such a difficult time.
LEONARDO GONZALEZ Manager, Respiratory Therapy Department Oversee clinical and operational functions. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? I am operating at full throttle. I had to leave many of my administrative functions behind to help my team with hands-on assistance. Problem-solving increased tenfold. Planning and operational changes had to be instituted sometimes in the same day rather than weeks prior to COVID-19. We held extensive interdisciplinary meetings to agree on the best way to adapt to the new environment as virtually our whole practice was affected by the crisis. A big portion of my time is now spent supporting our staff. Personal protective equipment is now part of my daily life. Supporting the team in the face of tragedy is now of the utmost importance. Keeping track of all the equipment and supplies needed to assure we can care for our patients has always been important, but it has now become an obsession. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I only wears scrubs now. I wash my hands 100 times a day – that’s an exaggeration – and use Purell the rest. I wear a mask from the time I leave my house to the time I return. My kids are now fully trained not to hug me when I get home. This has been hard. I arrive into a makeshift decontamination room and remove all clothes down to my underwear. They are placed in a specific laundry basket that is only moved with gloves. I run to the shower immediately after. I am super vigilant for any signs or symptoms of the virus on me or my family. I trained my kids not to touch their faces. We disinfect all doorknobs at least once a day. Street shoes stay by the entrance. I wear a mask any time I’m outside the house. We avoid public areas and have not been able to hug my elderly parents for fear of infecting them. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Not being able to see my parents. Dealing with the fear of getting the disease and not knowing what lies ahead. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I play with my kids in an effort to forget all of this. I am lucky enough to have a backyard which I use on sunny days to stare at the clouds. Lately we do zoom meetings with our friends in an attempt to normalize life. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I’m extremely proud of the work I do. As respiratory therapists we tend not to have the high visibility a nurse or a doctor has. If there is anything at all positive from this, it is that it highlighted our profession and the contributions we do every day to care for our patients. The responsibility of ensuring that every patient on a ventilator was well cared for has been nerve-wracking, but it also has been rewarding knowing that we contributed to helping others by doing what we know best. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? Intense focus on infection prevention and control is here to stay. The way we treat respiratory patients in the future has also changed. During the crisis we developed many ways to keep our staff safe while delivering care for our patients; many of those new setups will remain in place as they are improvements to the pre-COVID era. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? That it is real and not to be ignored. That it should be respected but that we are committed to defeating this monster. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? The amazing human capacity to adapt and thrive. The collective teamwork and organization that was achieved to deal with a completely new enemy was nothing short of outstanding. Feeling proud to work for an organization that, when faced with the unknown and endless challenges, rose to the occasion and got the job done. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Being completely unaware of an invisible enemy, being able to shake that hand of my friends without fear, having an occasional happy hour after work with friends and colleagues, but most of all hugging and kissing my mother. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Dr. Brenna Farmer Dr. Robert Tanouye
Dr. Vishwas (Anand)
Dr. Harjot K. Singh
DR. ROBERT TANOUYE, MD, MBA Associate Director, Emergency Department, New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital; Attending Physician, Emergency Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Providing emergency care for patients and managing the systems to allow others to do so. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? The practice of emergency medicine has changed into a constantly evolving iterative suite of services including: disaster medicine, follow-up care, telemedicine and palliative care. During March and April, we were constantly adjusting how and where we delivered care. During May, after the plateau, we have begun adjusting to a new normal. We have all had to make changes to our daily routines, but in the case of frontline workers who are around the virus daily, those changes are far more extensive. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? Fully decontaminating at the front door. Factoring in an extra 20 minutes before I take over for the babysitter. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? —Not seeing friends in person outside of work. Even though I work alongside many friends, not being able to socialize outside of the hospital in person has been difficult. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Massage chair, staying busy with work and an occasional socially distanced walk. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? Being needed in a disaster is invigorating. People needed reassurance, a listening ear, a guiding light, and frankly people to roll up their sleeves and do their best -- that has been exciting to be a part of. Also, the respect between Paramedics, FDNY, NYPD, food service workers, transportation workers, etc has been so uniquely special. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? In the ED, we’ve started using telemedicine in a different way for patients in isolation, by placing telemedicine carts in their rooms to assist with communication. In doing so, providers can still care for patients without having to remove their PPE. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? It’s simultaneously not as scary but also far worse than people can imagine. It’s not as scary because the majority of COVID-19 positive patients have not required hospitalization, mimicking a bad cold or flu, which would not be newsworthy in itself. But it’s also far worse because it’s been so unpredictable, including who decompensates and who does not. And when you need to be admitted to the hospital, not having any family able to visit has been tragic on all sides. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Working with so many volunteer emergency physicians, who have flown in from other states, and even physicians and advanced practice providers from other specialties. The camaraderie and generosity of spirit has never been richer. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Open dog parks—50 lb dog at home without a place to run. Not life-changing, but I miss that freedom.
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DR. BRENNA M. FARMER MD MBA MS
DR. VISHWAS (ANAND) SINGH, MD, MS
Site Director, Emergency Department at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital; Associate Attending Physician, Emergency Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My day changes depending on if I’m clinical (working a shift) or doing administrative work to keep the ED operational. We huddle with our masks on to discuss any changes in patient care such as what cases may need rapid screening for COVID-19, what the operating rooms are expected to do that day, and how many beds are available in the ICU. We also give “shout outs” to staff on going above and beyond to help each other out. Nowadays, that’s a shout out to everyone! I then round with the attending physicians. I wear scrubs every day so that I can jump in to help out clinically whenever I’m needed. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? When I get home I have to tell my 5-year-old son that he has to wait for mommy to wash hands, remove mask, shower, and put on clean non-work clothes prior to getting a hug. That’s really hard for a child to understand. At first, he thought I just didn’t want to hug him. I’m even more vigilant now as we hear more about how COVID-19 can cause critical illness in kids. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Trying to balance being a full-time physician, mom, and kindergarten teacher. God bless teachers. And determining what risk to take as a family. Do we go to the park and try to maintain our distance from everyone? Do we get take-out? What time do we go to the grocery store to avoid a long wait in line? How to we ensure fresh air and exercise for our son? How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? Spending time on FaceTime or Zoom with family and friends, and scheduling FaceTime sessions with a friend who is a trainer. And I’m scheduling time to focus on reading and spending time with family. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Masks work! They will help decrease your risk of becoming sick. It’s the reason we wear them constantly in the hospital and ED. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? How well we have worked together to solve problems and care for patients. No one ever says, “I don’t know how to get that to happen.” Folks have stepped up, checking on each other, ensuring everyone has everything they need. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss not having to wear a mask (even while running!) and being able to go out without worrying how crowded a place will be.
Co-Chief, Hospital Medicine, NewYorkPresbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital; Associate Professor of Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine; Assistant Attending Physician, Internal Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Oversee Hospital Medicine and patient care policies. Provide support and clinical care. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? Things were changing hourly. Were any of the doctors out sick? How many patients are in the ED? How many were on ventilators? The day often brought numerous patients rapidly decompensating and needing intubation. Distributing supplies or lending a shoulder to an overwhelmed colleague. This was completely different from my daily routine, which was always calm and scheduled. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? First, it was to suppress our own fears while facing an unknown. To protect my family, stripping everything off at the door and running into the shower to wash off the day. For two months I did not see my parents, my siblings, or friends. I lived off the food that was donated to the hospital. At the end of the day, I had time to sleep, then rinse and repeat. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The sense of helplessness and isolation. As doctors, we usually have a sense of what we were up against. All we could do is learn from what we saw, changing course on a minute’s notice. This emotional toil happened at a time when we were most cut off from social support. For me personally, I had two family members die and two others that were hospitalized from COVID. To not be able to be there with my family was heartbreaking. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? There are one or two colleagues that really carried me through. I always made sure to speak to my mother once a day. My dogs were also a source of comfort. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? This is really serious. Being at home and unable to see the effects of the virus, the impact is difficult to understand. Most people will recover. But this virus can affect the liver, lungs, brain, kidneys, skin, blood clots, strokes. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen so many deaths in such a concentrated period of time. On the front lines, we are working hard to innovate treatments and learn all we can. Can you describe a positive thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? It’s the outpouring of love from the community. Whenever I felt that I could not take anymore, I would hear the cheers at 7 PM and see the firemen lined up outside our entrance cheering. One day some of my neighbors made me dinner. And someone washed my car for free, to thank me. It is actions like these that make me realize how great the spirit of our city is.
DR. HARJOT K. SINGH Site Director for Infectious Disease and Hospital Epidemiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Weill Cornell Medicine; Assistant Attending Physician, Internal Medicine, NewYorkPresbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center Direct infectious disease consultation and infection control and prevention guidance. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? As an infectious disease professional, I provide direct patient care as well as infection prevention and control guidance. As the COVID-19 epidemic became a pandemic, I shifted to prevention efforts full time. It was an important time to keep up with emerging data, CDC guidelines, New York City and State mandates designed to protect patients and staff. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? As a dual-physician family with two teenage children, we have tried to follow all the quarantine mandates. We wear masks and follow social distancing when going to work or grocery shopping. We’ve had several important family events during the pandemic that we had to celebrate creatively over Zoom instead. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The stories of loss in isolation. Hearing about family members unable to come in to see their dying family members is definitely one of the most difficult things. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? Spending time together as a family has been a great recharger. Pre-COVID, we weren’t always all home for family dinner, but now as the pandemic curve has flattened, we usually are. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I was drawn to infectious diseases at a time when we were learning how best to manage HIV infection. Now another virus has taken center stage. Each day there is a something new about the virus and its management. I have never felt more fortunate to work with my colleagues. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? As an infection preventionist, the importance of teamwork cannot be overstated. With daily changes in data and guidance, it was hard to absorb, update, and disseminate best practices fast enough. But, these tough times have brought us closer both as an infection prevention community and hospital community. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Because of the pandemic, I have met and worked with so many great colleagues. It has been an honor to see so many people rise to this challenge together. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? All the cultural activities, from theatre to dining.
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BRAD PALISI Lead Electrician, Facilities Services My job is to maintain, monitor and repair the electrical system at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. Maintaining full functionality for all of our patients and staff is our number one goal and responsibility. Whether for our operating rooms, labor and delivery suites or for patients here for a regular doctor’s visit, it is something we take great pride in as a facilities team. Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? —As an electrician my work at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital has changed tremendously. My responsibilities shifted from normal day-to-day electrical issues to working out ways to facilitate electrical power to accommodate the needs of Covid-19 positive patients. We facilitated power for a triage tent on Gold Street. One of our biggest challenges was converting our PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) to ICU bays for patients with Covid-19. We also converted a full wing on one of our floors from exam rooms to patient rooms that could accommodate Covid-19 positive patients. Our job in Facilities Services has always been based around supporting our nurses and doctors so that they can perform all the amazing work that they do. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? As a husband and father of five kids, their safety was obviously a major concern of mine. My work here at NewYork-Presbyterian is very important to me and despite my kids asking me to stay, they knew I had to go to work. Changing my clothes before going inside my house, extra hand washing and hand sanitizing were all things that I do now on a daily basis. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Dealing with the loss of human life. I personally lost a close family member during this crisis. He was a wonderful human being. Losing him and then being at work that next morning was tough. The helpless feelings that people had and the sadness from our medical teams was hard to deal with. Our nurses and doctors are some of the bravest people I’ve been around. For them to have to come to terms with not being able to save some people is a hard thing for anyone to deal with. They really are heroes. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I’ve been spending more time with my family. It’s been really hard for my kids. They all play multiple sports and my wife and I coach multiple sports. We’re always on the go and running to this practice or that game. We all miss it, but it is nice to have life slow down a little bit. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I’ve been an electrician for over 20 years. I’ve been at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital for five years. The work our staff does has been amazing. Our facilities team has been asked to handle this challenge head on. Guys have cancelled time off, missed birthdays, etc., but I think we’re all in awe of our nursing staff. They are the epitome of courage. Any way we as facilities team members can help them do their job, we will do it. I love working at NYP and I’ll stay here as long as they’ll have me. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? Numerous new procedures have stemmed from this. A good part of my day and the day of our facilities team and our facilities management has been rounding, walking through all the areas that we’ve built to help accommodate our patients, walking to the PACU or our tent to make sure our nurses and doctors have what they need. Asking if there’s anything we can do to make things easier for them. I have worked in all of our ICU isolation rooms. We were asked to provide power for the additional IV poles that our Covid-19 patients require. Those poles were in the isolation rooms with the patients. To make things easier and safer for the nurses, we provided temporary power from the isolation room to the hallway and moved the IV poles out of the isolation area. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I would like people to know that things like this, crises like this one, are terrible, but I think of a quote from Mr. Rogers that I heard as a kid. When bad things happen, look for the helpers. There are always people running to help. During 9/11 it was our first responders, now it’s nurses and doctors in scrubs and masks. They are the best of us all in my opinion. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Just the satisfaction of being able to help. To play a small role during this event has been very gratifying. It’s something I think we should all be proud of. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Our freedom. It’s easy to take things for granted. It’s human nature I guess.
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JUDITH LILAVOIS Administrator, Supply Chain, Procurement & Strategic Sourcing Management of supply chain activities and maintaining the appropriate levels of stock and equipment. Efficient operations of receiving docks. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? I manage site logistics operations and ensure that we have all the supplies needed to treat our patients. The job did not change, but the focus did from one hour to the next, to acquire supplies to meet the needs of our patients. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? I started driving to work instead of taking public transportation. I have avoided contact with family members for two months. With the closing of beauty salons and cleaners, you learn to do it yourself. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Knowing that so many people have died despite our team’s extraordinary measures to treat them. They died without the normal family visitation and support that is so vital to finding peace. I have been lucky thus far in that I personally have not lost any family members to COVID-19, but my heart goes out to those who have. The opportunity to appropriately mourn the loss has been stripped from them. When I stop to think about that, it is heart-wrenching. I pray for those who have lost any family member or friend and hope that they can at least find joy in celebrating the lives of those lost. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? My stress management includes ice cream (I even purchased an ice cream maker - although I have not had time to use it yet), puzzles, reading, watching Law & Order or any show that is not about COVID-19, laughter and most importantly, my faith, which is what keeps me grounded. We have to find something to smile about so I try to encourage my team to laugh, which they do even at my bad jokes. If only for a few seconds, even laughter through tears is a sign of hope. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I have always been proud to be in health care. To be a part of something bigger than me, to make things better for patients and families and knowing I have been part of a team that has positively affected lives remind me why I chose health care. The wins refill my cup, and that is always a good day. Have you discovered new ways of doing things that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? Yes, absolutely. We have increased communication within the supply chain team across the enterprise. In turn, this has facilitated real time resource tracking and reallocation. Employees from other departments across the enterprise were also redeployed to assist with shifting priorities. The cross training, teaching, and on the spot learning was a gratifying experience. We quickly established a strong rapport among a group of people that my team may never have met otherwise. We want to continue to expand on this as we move forward. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I want people to know that COVID-19 can have a devastating toll on all of us. Our lives changed overnight, and it has been stressful and incomprehensible. Being in the middle of it all and watching colleagues get sick, seeing the signs of fatigue, despair, anxiety, and fear in people’s eyes is devastating. I want people to understand the gravity of this, and the importance of social distancing. Staying home today means that we can protect others and ourselves and remain healthy to be able to enjoy tomorrow together. Can you describe a positive thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? There was a focused collaboration and shared mission within our supply chain team and the hospital to respond to the crisis. Requests for supplies and PPE were incessant and the number of patients was exponentially increasing. We had to deliver. The clinical staff needed us, the patients needed them. My team realized how essential supply chain is to the organization. They stepped up with some fear and uncertainty, but rose to many challenges. Relationships strengthened and there was no longer a place for pettiness that can exist in any organization. Everyone embraced an all hands on deck approach and true teamwork. What do you miss most about preCOVID New York City? Being able to meet friends and family for dinner or drinks. Impromptu decisions to go see a show or go shopping. Hugs, kisses, and the freedom to go anywhere at anytime.
VINCENT MATHEW Advanced Imaging Technologist, Radiology I perform procedures such as MRI, CT, Interventional, and X-ray. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? This was the hardest part of daily life. I have a 5 month old at home and an elderly father I take care of. I had to isolate myself in the basement of my home and some days stayed in a hotel accommodation to limit interaction. Not seeing my newborn and my wife was the most difficult decision, but I wanted to be safe for my whole family. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult thing was being away from family and seeing all the suffering of the patients. It is something that will stay with me forever. How are you practicing selfcare during this stressful time? I quickly realized I had to mentally stay prepared every day. I had recently taken up meditation and implemented that into my daily routine, whether before or after my shift. Keeping a positive outlook instead of dwelling on the negative and knowing we are all in this together. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I come from a family of healthcare workers. I have always been proud of helping others and during this pandemic I felt a greater need to help. The teamwork my colleagues and I demonstrated during this pandemic has made me so proud to be in this field. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? One thing this pandemic showed me is the improvement in efficiency with better communication. I will continue to create a more efficient and caring space for my patients and colleagues going forward. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I want people to know that this is something we have to be better prepared for in the future. We must be willing to learn from this experience and be better from it. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? Watching all New Yorkers come together for each other. Seeing the selflessness of staff to go and fight this virus. How strong the human spirit is in times of crisis. What do you miss most about pre- New York City? I miss nights out with friends and family enjoying good food. Exploring the city and shopping. THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
VALERIE LOUIS Senior Physician Assistant, Medicine – Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Part of a medical team to assess critically ill patients, interpret physiologic data, and formulate a management plan tailored to each individual’s health care needs. I perform routine and emergent life-saving procedures. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My responsibilities as a critical care physician assistant in our ICU revolve around caring for the hospital’s sickest patients. I am trained to care for patients with severe infections causing sepsis or septic shock to patients with neurological or cardiac emergencies. I am well-trained and prepared to care for patients with severe respiratory disease caused by COVID-19 pneumonia. However, I now care for these extremely sick patients at a higher rate than ever before. At the height of the pandemic, I would walk into a unit filled with patients who were sick with the most severe form of a respiratory illness. My unit changed structurally by adding beds to accommodate the influx of patients. We changed operationally by adding members to the medical team (residents, intensivists, hospitalists), as well as additional staff, many of whom voluntarily answered the call to help in departments like Nursing, Respiratory Therapy, Environmental Services, Pharmacy. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? My routine had to change drastically. I decided after about two weeks of caring for extremely ill COVID-19 patients that the safest thing for me to do would be to take up the hospital’s offer and use hotel accommodations for my lodging. I currently have been living in a hotel for the last seven weeks. I decided that staying in a hotel was the safest thing that I could do for my family, as I was extremely nervous about contracting the virus as an asymptomatic carrier, and spreading it amongst my household; my husband, my four and two-year-old sons, and my mother-in-law. At the same time, I knew I intended to rise to the occasion as I have a responsibility to the public to take care of my fellow New Yorkers when they need it the most. I looked at it as a need to make this personal sacrifice to be away from my family, so that I can care for a patient in the hopes that they could one day get back to their family. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? I’m away from my family, I’m away from my young boys. I feel guilty because I’m missing out on their development and just enjoying time at home with them. But I can’t help but think about how my patients can’t have their loved ones at their bedside due to visitation restrictions. I think about how I have found myself in so many situations where I want to act as the patient’s advocate and provide that patient or their family member with some emotional support because I empathize with the burden they carry. It’s been extremely difficult trying to have a tough conversation about a patient’s critical illness with a loved one who can’t physically be there at the patient’s bedside. I have a newfound appreciation for in-person visitation. I will say that our hospital anticipated this scenario and was innovative. They provided us with the technology to hold video visits with patients and their loved ones. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? I work with an amazing team of supportive and dedicated physician assistants, doctors, nurses, patient care technicians, respiratory therapists, and patient relation specialists. We have had each other’s back from the beginning. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues and their willingness to support me, let me vent, let me cry on their shoulder, build me up, and encourage me to press on. Our hospital has also offered a tremendous service by providing us with mental health support in the form of open forums and town halls, as well as individually tailored assistance. I really enjoy the group support that is led by members from the Department of Psychiatry. I have found these extremely helpful because when I get into my head and think that I may be going through something by myself, I listen to my colleagues express themselves in one of these meetings and realize I am not alone. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I can’t help but think that my seven years as a Critical Care PA were all meant to prepare me for this exact moment. I have been so grateful to have gained this expertise and skillset because I am able to use
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it to help people during an unprecedented and unimaginable global crisis and experience. In the beginning, of course, there were a lot of unknowns and justified nervousness. But as the patients continued to come in and we could not see a light at the end of the tunnel, we continued to come in to work day-in and day-out without hesitation. We are built for this. I am built for this. Crises bring out the worst and best in people, and I believe my entire ICU family brought their best to the workplace each and every day. Have you discovered new ways of doing things that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? The pandemic has helped us adjust and improve our workflow. We’ve created new roles. We’ve figured out how to streamline some of our routine behaviors. We’ve collaborated in new ways with members of different departments. Overall, we have figured out innovative ways to be more efficient, including utilizing video capabilities for face-to-face patient visits. We’ve found new ways to be more efficient and we could never go back to the way we did things before. It’s inspiring to take such a strenuous time in our history and use it to learn and improve as a unit, a team, and a hospital. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? I want people to take this virus extremely seriously. Until we know that people are not getting newly infected by the virus, and that the rate of new infection is nil, and the virus is no longer actively spreading, wear a mask and practice social distancing, no matter how hard it seems. Do your part to prevent a second surge. Can you describe a positive thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? One thing that has struck me is that people have been so kind-hearted. We have received so many generous donations of food, water, and specialty items from people who don’t even know us, but want to share their gratitude for the work we do. The 7 p.m. citywide clap and the visits from the FDNY in front of our hospital were so profound. I personally was not able to participate until the very last one that featured the FDNY in front of our building. You can imagine the number of tears! I am so grateful and I hope you all know that we do what we do, COVID or not, for you. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I look forward to the day my coworkers and I can enjoy a nice mid-day brunch, sitting at an outside table on a beautiful New York summer day.
Registered Nurse, ICU Clinical Nurse working in an Intensive Care Unit Describe a day in your work life during this time. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? My usual schedule for the week changed dramatically. On days off, I found myself picking up overtime in order to help my colleagues. I was also the charge nurse almost every shift; a role which focused on bed management and facilitating stable patient transfers. We were also responsible for receiving unstable patients and stabilizing them for care. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? Before healthcare providers were being tested, I made sure I isolated myself from friends and family regardless of if I had symptoms. Even now that things have calmed down a little, I’m still very cautious when around loved ones. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? The most difficult thing about this situation was not being able to see my loved ones and the fear that I myself may contract the illness. A very close second was having to care for patients during an extremely scary time in their lives where their loved ones were not able to visit. The fear and heartbreak I witnessed was intense. How are you coping and practicing mental self-care during this stressful time? I’ve found a new love for yoga and enjoying very loud music while I dance around my apartment. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I do not regret my chosen career one bit. This pandemic has not scared me away; if anything it has pushed me to want to learn more. I have so much more respect and appreciation for my colleagues. To see everyone give their 100% and not complain was admirable. I believe this event has brought us all closer to each other. Have you discovered new ways of doing things or new procedures that will continue even after this pandemic has subsided? Definitely! Some of the protocols that were implemented during the “crisis times” have become a part of our permanent practice. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? Whether you are 25 or 55, COVID is extremely deadly as it does not prefer one age over the other. Please be safe and smart even if you are asymptomatic. The person you may transmit the virus to may not be as lucky as you. Can you describe a positive or uplifting thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? I’ve gained so much confidence and strength being able to endure what COVID has done to NYC. NYP has been so supportive and amazing during this time. The resources that were made available were extremely helpful in alleviating a lot of the stress we were experiencing. My Patient Care Director was superhuman. Her, along with other individuals from upper management, did everything they could to ensure our safety as well as our wellbeing and made themselves available no matter what time of day or night. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? Being able to walk outside, mask free and enjoy spending time with loved ones and engaging in one of the many activities NYC offers.
Registered Nurse Charge nurse on a medical surgical telemetry floor which served as a step down COVID floor. Has your job changed due to COVID-19? I come prepared to float to whatever unit needs the most help. When in my own unit, I spend the day triaging patients, most with increasing oxygen needs. How have you changed your routine to keep yourself and your family safe? The scary part was wondering whether I could do my job, while also keeping my family safe in the face of an illness no one seemed to know very much about. I stopped taking public transportation and now drive to work every day. When I get home, my family says hello from afar and I give my six year old “air hugs.” I immediately take my clothes off and everything goes straight into the wash, and then I hop right into the shower without touching anything or anyone. What has been the most difficult thing about this situation? Seeing our patients sick and suffering all alone. I’ve been a patient myself and I can’t imagine being sick in the hospital without my support system. My heart breaks for those who lost loved ones during this time and wanted to be with them but couldn’t. How are you practicing self-care during this stressful time? I’ve practiced yoga and meditation for years, so I always fall back on that. Staying connected in some way with friends and family. Finding ways to see the silver lining and positivity in things, such as more time with my daughter on days off. How has serving during this pandemic made you feel about your chosen career and your colleagues? I have always felt a strong commitment to serving my community and a bond with my colleagues. COVID-19 strengthened this bond tremendously. Essential workers are all doing important work with or without a pandemic. Being on the frontlines of this global crisis only strengthened that commitment. What do you want people to know about COVID-19 from an “insider” perspective? This is a terrible illness that is not to be taken lightly. When we were in the worst of it, every day we would see young healthy people with no significant past medical history go from needing little to no oxygen to being intubated. Can you describe a positive thing that you have experienced through your work at the hospital? It was very uplifting to see our team come together closer than ever. In early March we began treating COVID-19 patients. Two weeks later, COVID-19 patients were all we seemed to have. People not only showed up, putting themselves and their loved ones in unknown risk, they volunteered to help out on days off. What do you miss most about pre-COVID New York City? I miss normal. I miss seeing my family, my friends. I’m actually grateful for work because it allowed me to have a sense of normalcy. I can’t wait to see my friends and family, and have dinner with people and let my daughter play with friends in person.
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THE HELPERS COVID-19 reveals that New Yorkers are not only the toughest, we are also the kindest.
Invisible Hands now has over 12,000 volunteers nationwide, and has recieved attention from countries as far away as Africa and Australia.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHIDI NOBI.
by Dan Metz
COVID-19 HIT NEW YORK CITY earlier and harder than any other city in the world, with more confirmed cases than many European countries. When the virus was at its worst, many small voices stepped forward to bring out their best. Grassroots organizations across the city were founded or grew into the role of protectors to keep New Yorkers safe.
These organizations have battled food and housing insecurity, regulatory roadblocks, and the crippling loneliness of isolation that proved for many to be almost as dangerous as the virus itself. All of these organizations are actively fundraising and looking for new ways to expand their scale and scope to serve their communities and clients better.
INVISIBLE HANDS This was not what Liam Elkind pictured his spring break would be like. First, there was COVID—Elkind was home in New York City when he learned Yale might delay classes, prolonging his junior year of college. It looked like things were going to get difficult. Many high-risk New Yorkers were already isolated in their homes, unable to walk down the hall, much less go to the store for groceries. Then Elkind saw a post on social media by Simone Policano: someone should bring them food. Someone should DO something to help. But the service didn’t exist. So, he thought, “Why not build it?” Together with Policano and Healy Chait, they set to work. The response was overwhelming: 2,700 volunteers in the first few days, then 12,000 in the following weeks. Invisible Hands takes food orders and delivers for free to those in need. The interaction is contact-free, though Elkind says he has made a lot of friends while social distancing. “We talk about social distancing,” he says, “but that’s kind of a fraught term. We’ve made a ton of friends while standing six feet away from each other.” Elkind has received a global response. Not just from other US cities like Philadelphia, where Invisible Hands is opening a second base of operations, but also in countries like Kenya, Australia, and Mexico. With more than 12,000 volunteers to manage, Elkind has taken on more of an administrative role, but it is one he still enjoys. When COVID winds down, he plans on transitioning the organization to address broader concerns about food insecurity. He will also likely continue to branch out across the country and perhaps the world. He will also have to consider going back to school at Yale, but that is a distant problem as schools try to navigate this challenge. “At this point, I’m 85 percent sure that I’m going to take at least a semester off.” invisiblehandsdeliver.org THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Two Bridges Neighborhood Foundation is all about neighbors helping neighbors.
TWO BRIDGES NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL Sometimes a movement begins with one neighbor helping another. In Two Bridges, a neighborhood with an aging population, hope arose out of concern for neighbors and friends. Community members realized there was no accountability for checking in on the neighborhood’s more isolated members. The program started simply enough: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (TBNC) set about checking in on seniors in their subsidized housing complexes. They set up phone banks and made rounds to check on physical and mental health. They got a lot of feedback, especially from the neighbors of the seniors. They, too, were suffering from isolation and lack of access to basic resources like food. TBNC reached out to Tanya Castro, one of the resident leaders of the Lands End II Tenant Association, a frequent partner to TBNC. Castro stepped into a role as Food Distribution and Wellness Call Coordinator for TBNC and Land’s End II. She reached out to other nearby tenant associations and connected with programs like Hamilton Madison House, a nonprofit settlement house in the Two Bridges area. Tenant association by tenant association, they connected like scattered ships recovering from a storm. They set up communications networks and broadened their scope. Today, the TBNC-led coalition partners with Vision Urbana and Rethink Food in order to serve daily meals to nearly 600 residents. Castro also coordinates hundreds of social check-ins. Volunteers discovered many residents were so eager for attention they would stand at their doors waiting for the food delivery so they could soak up the momentary social interaction. As the Pause continues, TBNC’s coalition is changing shape. Early on, Castro and the council coordinated heavily with tenant association leaders to provide effective aid. That led to swelling in tenant association membership and better local effectiveness. Castro says she will be scaling back her leadership role in food distribution, focusing instead on the mental health and wellness coordination. Through hard work, the City might have already passed its peak, but Castro and the TBNC still have a lot more to do. Chief among them is securing enough PPE to continue to make checks and visits and finding refrigerated storage to better distribute thousands of daily meals to their expanding network. twobridges.org
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EMERGENCY RELEASE FUND The Emergency Release Fund might be the last cash bail fund in New York City. Since August 2019, they have worked to post bail for transgender New Yorkers awaiting trial. In January 2020, the City passed new cash bail laws, eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors. But the all-volunteer ERF found many of their clients were now being charged with felonies, and with higher cash bail. From August 2019 through March 2020, the fund bailed 20 transgender New Yorkers out of Rikers Island and ICE detention facilities. “Before COVID, no one knew our name. Our Instagram had 2000 followers. We were fundraising one at a time for each client,” says organizer Alex Tereshonkova. Then came COVID-19. At Rikers Island, the infection rate grew to seven times higher than it was in the City, with 1 in 10 incarcerated individuals testing positive while trapped in cramped conditions with no access to PPE and sanitary products. In response, Governor Andrew Cuomo created guidelines to release at-risk individuals. But the wheels of justice turn slowly and often wobble. Many transgender individuals who are close to meeting these guidelines have added levels of risk, including asthma and HIV. In response, the ERF broadened its efforts, posting bail and advocating for the early release of transgender, LGBTQ, and medically vulnerable individuals. Their numbers have soared. Between March and mid-June 2020, the fund went from having released 20 individuals to nearly 200. Once they get out, ERF’s network of over 200 volunteers helps at every stage from actually posting bail and picking clients up to post-release services like emotional support, housing, and legal support. It is a fierce battle, as Tereshonkova is quick to point out. Even with the cash bail reform in place, hundreds are excluded. Taking even the lowest cash bails into account (from $1,000-$3,00), 200 individuals are awaiting trial in Rikers with a combined cash bail of $100,000. Some could wait for years, while COVID rates soar amongst staff and incarcerated individuals both. emergencyreleasefund.com
Emergency Relief Fund organizer Alex Tereshonkova
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GLITS GLITS Founder Ceyenne Doroshow
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For many formerly incarcerated, the success of postrelease services hinges on peer and community support. Since 2016, Ceyenne Doroshow has been working to ensure formerly incarcerated transgender individuals, especially trans women of color, have these supports. GLITS provides wraparound services, including securing housing, health services, and opportunities to reintegrate and thrive postincarceration. COVID-19 has made the need for these services painfully acute. Conditions more likely to affect transgender New Yorkers of color, like homelessness and lack of proper healthcare, have become potential death sentences. Shelters have been struck hard by COVID, infecting many who are unable to seek treatment, social distance, or shelter in place. Housing means stability—not just safety from COVID, but the gift of living without having to focus on where they are spending the night. For Doroshow, it is all about building equity. That means job training, representation, stability, and especially housing. In June 2020, GLITS raised $1,000,000 to provide housing for their black trans clients. This came on the same day Doroshow spoke to a crowd of 15,000 protesters supporting trans rights at a protest outside of the Brooklyn Museum. But there is still a long way to go. GLITS is still only two people: Doroshow and her director Flayr Poppins. The rest are volunteers who provide support and raise funds. “This is giving people a chance to grow, not just in a box but in an apartment where they can see that people have dedicated their lives to them maintaining their lives,” says Doroshow, “We don’t want to take care of children—we want to give you a path to take care of yourself. That’s sustainability.” glitsinc.org
Rethink Food, delivering to needy and homebound seniors during the pandemic.
RETHINK FOOD Chinatown was one of the first parts of NYC to be rocked by COVID-19. Even before cases spiked, bigoted fear choked off valuable business. When Rethink Food co-founder and CSO Winston Chiu drove through Chinatown early in the epidemic, he noticed most of the mom-and-pop restaurants and independent markets, crucial to the neighborhood’s ecology, were closed. Without those shops, many Chinatown residents had no way to get food. Rethink Food was founded in 2016 by Chiu and founder and CEO Matt Jozwiak. After a combined 25-plus years in the restaurant industry, the two were frustrated with the amount of leftover food being thrown out by every restaurant every day. They found in each other kindred spirits and set about finding a solution. Rethink’s strategy was to take all of that excess food and puts it to work. They built partnerships with farms and restaurants, who boxed excess food for Rethink to pick up. They distribute the food to community centers and kitchens, which turn it into delicious, nutritious meals. COVID presented a challenge: many of the restaurants Rethink
partnered with were closed in the Pause. So, he “re-opened” them, using grants and private donations to pay workers at local restaurants and compensating the owners with forgiveness grants to keep their doors open. That meant hot meals, but also cultural sensitivity. “We knew that there were certain pantry programs that were happening and meal service programs that were happening,” said Chiu, “but Chinatown was long forgotten. You know, the normal peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not something that would appeal to somebody in Chinatown.” With over 20 restaurant partners to date and more than 50 paid staff members, Rethink Food has delivered hundreds of thousands of meals to residents in four boroughs—9000 in the first week on top of the 15,000 they were already delivering. That number has now ballooned to between 15k to 30k meals a day. Volunteers distribute stickers to target buildings, and residents write down the number of meals they need, leaving it on the door. The volunteers then go floor to floor, leaving the meals outside the apartment door to protect vulnerable residents. Chiu says Rethink Food is in the process of activating in Nashville, San Francisco, and Chicago, where they hope to continue their mission. rethinkfood.nyc THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Line and Label pivoted to making masks for fronline workers.
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THE MAKERS When NYC needed Personal Protective Equipment, these companies shifted gears and stepped into the gap. by Alice Teeple
SOMETIMES NATURE FORCES you to change direction. Sixty years ago, MIT meteorology professor Edward Lorenz posited the groundbreaking theory that the wing flutter of a single butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historical events. A microscopic virus invisible to the human eye brought the entire planet to its knees. New York’s suffering exploded, from immediate grief of losing loved ones, to the chaos of PPE shortages. Within weeks, the city emptied into desolation, boarded storefronts, and the perpetual wail of ambulance sirens in all five boroughs. When news of the growing COVID severity emerged at the beginning of March, several New York companies felt the flutter of that proverbial butterfly. Frantic calls for safe gear transport and runs on medical supplies sparked a call for several NYC businesses to make professional detours. Much as their wartime predecessors changed production to rally around a cause with grit, determination, and innovation, these companies rose to the challenge with ingenuity and resources. They knew they could bring their skills to find meaningful ways to help their ravaged community.
Designer Kate O’Riley of the Greenpoint boutique Line and Label returned from a successful February launch of her new jewelry line at Paris Fashion week to a world of uncertainty. By mid-March, the pandemic forced the shop to close. The sudden change of gears caused her to forge a new way to save her business. A friend requested washable cloth masks for a postal worker team sharing a box of disposables, and O’Riley saw her mission. Designing masks became a positive means of connecting to customers, as well as fulfilling a community need with an affordable resource. “In the beginning, I may have been the only person some people interacted with all day, so I was hopeful that it added a sense of normalcy to an unpredictable time,” says O’Riley. “Creating something that people need has been a good way to stay connected to my customers during a time when I cannot be open, as well as stay focused on something helpful. I love seeing pictures of my customers wearing something I’ve made. It’s about being able to fill a need.” lineandlabel.com THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Lo and Sons (this page and opposite bottom)
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Couture designer Radmila Lolly, using fabric remnants to create masks.
Eltara Casata by Radmila Lolly, under normal circumstances, creates custom couture focusing mostly on evening wear and gowns featured in Vogue Italia and Harper’s Bazaar. The mission of Eltara Casata has always been to give back to the community as the fashion house grew, and that has not changed with Covid-19. The fashion house, which firmly believes in ethical and sustainable production. utilized their fabric remnants to create fashionable masks, scarves, and evening handbags. “Right now our cause is making masks for donations, and allowing customers to buy them to help finance that,” says the company. Eltara Casata by Radmila Lolly donated over 250 masks to individuals in need, from hospital workers to the Navajo Nation.
When the pandemic passes and masks are no longer in demand, their next charitable venture will be creating fashion workshops for underprivileged kids, where they can learn to sketch and sew, and get a backstage view to what the fashion industry looks like. “We hope that our masks have helped to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and kept their wearers healthy,” says the company. As Dr. Lorenz suggested in the butterfly effect metaphor, small changes can have large consequences. A pandemic can devastate an entire globe, but an architect’s imagination can also save the life of an exhausted doctor, a software developer can save a whole supply chain, and an evening gown designer can give an ambitious child a new set of beautiful wings to flutter. eltaracasata.com
Lo and Sons is a small, sustainable travel lifestyle brand based in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Family owned and operated, their mission is to “inspire and empower people to go places, while leaving a positive impact on people’s lives and the planet.” The company designs thoughtful, high function baggage with minimalist aesthetics. Their mission changed when a friend at Harlem hospital mentioned many overnight COVID response healthcare workers were using plastic shopping bags as PPE baggage. Lo and Sons donated bags for easier transport. With separate compartments for shoes and clothing and an easily cleaned surface, the gesture proved highly effective. Lo and Sons donated more than 3,800 bags to over 300 hospitals nationwide. The company cherishes the thoughtful letters and photos from grateful healthcare workers on the front line. “Learning how much they have taken on – sometimes even having to hold the phone to patients during their last moments – has made us that much more appreciative. It is humbling to be able to make a difference in someone’s life during the pandemic,” says Kelley Noonan of Lo and Sons. loandsons.com THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
Suuchi is a woman-owned/operated apparel
Suuchi (above), edg (below), and Eskayel (opposite) all worked to create PPE, keeping their workers employed and filling a desperate need.
edg, an architectural and engineering firm, also wanted to help. Founding principal of the company John J. Meyer focused on filling the growing need for first responder face shields. “We have an industrial-size 3D printer unit that’s usually printing furniture and wall panels we’ve designed,” says Meyer. We were able to capitalize on that expertise to print face shields. As a team, we just wanted to help.” Meyer researched open-source designs, and the firm went to work on efficiency to increase the capacity they could donate. “It was great to see so many in the architecture, design, and 3D printing communities use our skills and experience to help in whatever way we could.” edgnyc.com 78
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and clothing manufacturing and supply chain management software provider for brands, retailers and factories. When the pandemic hit, they shifted gears to source PPE to essential workers, as well as providing masks at their R&D facility. “One of our core values from day one has been our commitment to our local and global communities,” says Suuchi Ramesh. “As the virus began to spread, we saw the big impacts and knew we had to be part of the solution.” Suuchi’s customers were primarily in the fashion industry, and their Suuchi GRID software helped digitize brands and retailers’ supply chains. One of the modules of the Suuchi GRID allows access to a global network of 600+ global factories and suppliers that they leveraged and expanded to produce and procure PPE for healthcare organizations, state agencies, and essential businesses that needed urgent support. “We are proud to be a company with a heart that stands behind our mission to revolutionize the supply chain while having a positive impact on our world. We’re proud of our team’s ability to adapt to this new normal and that we leveraged our sourcing platform to help our communities in a time of need.” suuchi.com
Eskayel, an NYC-based textile design studio that weaves fine art with exacting craftsmanship, took to creating masks when the pandemic halted business as usual. Studio founder Shanan Campanaro creates each of the company’s unique designs from paintings inspired by nature or travel, using eco-friendly water-based pigment ink, regional production, and sustainably-sourced materials. These creations become hand-tied rigs, wall coverings, home linens, and furnishings, but under COVID-19, Eskayel added mask production to their inventory. “Since they print our fabric, we had them print our designs on the masks to help get the word out,” says Eskayel. “We were able to send our clients direct to our factory to get masks with our designs, which makes them a lot more fun, (and) keeps our factory and our supply chain open.” The company proudly raised over $3000 for www. directrelief.org with proceeds from mask sales, donating one out of every five masks sold to healthcare and essential workers. eskayel.com
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
EN VOGUE | BEAUTY You said that makeup can cause additional problems when worn under a mask. What are those problems and what do you suggest about wearing makeup under a mask. I suggest no makeup under the mask. Not only it will make masks dirty, especially if you’re reusing the mask, but makeup under the mask may cause additional breakouts of the skin, especially if heat and moisture make the skin sweaty under the mask.
We are masking up for our health, but our skin needs some attention too. by Dr. Marina Peredo DR. MARINA PEREDO is a boardcertified dermatologist with over 25 years of experience who has been labeled a “super-doctor” by The New York Times, and a Top Doctor by Castle Connolly. She believes that dermatologists can have a direct impact on confidence, and she brings her concept of aesthetic artistry to a whole new level at her modern practice, Skinfluence, in Manhattan. She knows that caring for skin under a mask can be a challenge, so we asked for her best tips on how to prevent “mask skin.” Summer can be a challenge for sensitive skin, and that is only going to be compounded by wearing a face mask. What are some of the skincare challenges masks can cause? When you wear a mask, especially disposable N95 masks that give you the most protection, it is most likely to give you the most irritation, acne, and the indentations of the skin due to pressure from the edges of the
masks. Further, masks may trap heat, causing greater humidity, excessive sweating, and increasing skin fragility, irritation, and inflammation. Some of the fabric masks may give you less protection but are much gentler on the skin especially sensitive skin. When choosing fabric masks, I would stay with cotton or silk fabric. Existing skin conditions like acne and rosacea can possibly be exacerbated by wearing a mask. What are some ways to deal with those problems, and other skin conditions as well? First of all, I would encourage people who are prone to acne or rosacea to not use any makeup under the mask, which can exacerbate acne or rosacea. One of the products I recommend is over the counter mist that contains nanotised glutathione—PrimaSkin. What I love about this product is that it can be applied at a distance by spraying it on the skin several times a day and not touching your skin with your hands.
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
Should we still be wearing sunscreen? And if so, what kinds of formulas should we look for? Yes. If not over the entire face, then at least to the upper face that is not covered by the mask. I like lightweight mineral sunscreens, they absorb quickly, don’t feel greasy, and improve your skin tone over time. Your skin absorbs chemical sunscreens, which can potentially cause allergic reactions and irritation in the process. Mineral sunscreens work differently because they sit on the top of the skin and deflect UV rays away from the skin. These sunscreens are typically formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and better tolerated by people with acne or sensitive skin. I normally suggest using broad-spectrum physical sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. What about our lips? We have noticed that our lips are dryer than ever, even though we use lip balm regularly. Under a mask, the skin is excessively moisturized by sweat and humidity and is susceptible to irritation. Irritated and over-dry skin can lead to greater inflammation by cracks and fissures. Also, people are less likely to use lipstick (which normally is protective and moisturizing) under their masks. The masks themselves can cause irritation rubbing against the lips. Sweat and saliva are also irritants and can cause lips to over-dry. What kind of cleansing routine do you recommend that can help with some of the issues caused by wearing a mask? I recommend washing the face with a gentle cleanser (I love our alpha cleanser that has Papaya extract which is both anti-inflammatory and
PRIMASKIN is a moisturizing mist that contains ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Collagen, and Amino Acids, and uses a breakthrough nano technology that nano-sizes critical ingredients, creating extraordinary bioavailability for maximum efficiency. PrimaSkin helps to lift and firm skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smoothing skin texture, and adding brightness and radiance, for more even skin tone and protection from skin aging pollutants.
gentle) at least twice a day. Wear a light moisturizer to give the skin the extra layer of protection. And I love PrimaSkin, a moisturizing mist to “give your skin a drink of water” several times a day. PrimaSkin is moisturizing and antiinflammatory. By using a mist/spray you are “social distancing” your skin from your hands. What kind of dermatology treatments do you do that can help with skin issues caused by wearing a mask? Our Signature Skinfluence Hydrafacial (post-Covid) treatment, gently exfoliates the skin, unclogs the pores, and infuses the hydration of the proprietary blend of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory peptides. DT
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EN VOGUE | BEAUTY ABOUT FACE is a natural colloidal silver facial mist to keep your face clean, clear, and hydrated. Spritz on throughout the day for a refresher during the summer heat. Available in scents like Rose Water and Geranium Vanilla. shopohso.com
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DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
FITNESS | EN VOGUE
THE JOURNEY INSIDE
A yoga teacher shares her ways to improve your stay-at-home practice. by Mary McGowan photography by Deborah L. Martin FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS I attended studio Hatha Yoga classes, but two years ago, I felt an overwhelming desire to practice on my own. A strong foundational knowledge, coupled with an unwavering willingness assured me that I would have the discipline to practice daily. A personal yoga practice—Sadhana—translates to “a daily turning inward and observing one’s self.” This inward focus is not limited to a yoga practice. The way we breathe, eat, sit, stand, and conduct our lives can be sadhana, but in this context it involves performing sequenced physical postures, breathing processes, and meditation. Although the benefits were obvious to me when I first began, I have become even more appreciative of a complete daily practice during the COVID -19 stay home order. As life has slowed down, I have more time. I’m sometimes able to add an evening session. It provides much needed structure and organization to my day, and in spite of all the uncertainty around me I feel clear and balanced in thought and emotion. One of the many reasons I cherish my home yoga practice is because of its simplicity and practicality. A mat and a 6’ x6’ space is all that is needed. To enhance sadhana’s benefits there are ways to make the environment more conducive. 1. Take a cool shower to wake up the body. An ancient technique called Abhyanga, or self-massage, can be done before or after bathing. With oiled hands, massage the body from head (including the ears) to soles of feet, using long strokes over the limbs, and circular motions over the joints. 2. Drink a cup of warm water laced with a bit of honey to get the digestive system moving. 3. Create a pleasant atmosphere for yourself with no interruptions. 4. Practice daily. Even a short practice done daily will offer positive results. A wise teacher once said “If you choose the beneficial over the pleasurable, the beneficial becomes pleasurable.” 5. Practice on an empty stomach. This allows your body to dedicate itself to only one activity, and your experience in meditation is enhanced when you are a little bit hungry. Wait four hours after a full meal, two hours after a light snack, and after alcohol consumption wait eight hours to practice. Many people, including myself, take up yoga for the physical benefits. Both of my parents and three out of four siblings have undergone back surgeries, so spinal health has always been paramount to me. There are particular yoga processes that specifically strengthen the muscles along
the spine, so it has served me well. The yoga postures (in Sanskrit called asanas) accompanied by breathing (pranayama) and meditation are an indispensable tool for wellbeing. All asanas can strengthen muscle groups, improve balance, lubricate joints, and increase agility and range of motion. There are 84 Hatha yoga asanas, one for every natural muscle and joint motion. Standing, squatting, sitting, and lying down actions done in quick succession can be aerobic and energizing. In a slower paced practice, postures held for 30 seconds or more have been shown to increase bone density. Rests are always worked in to settle the breath and allow the body to recover. Another significant gain from yoga has been the ability to sit and stand more easily. The way we hold ourselves affects the way we breathe, and there is scientific support for how breathing can affect the way we think and feel. Simple breathing practices are extremely effective and take just a few minutes. The ability to breathe deeply within a posture allows the physical body to expand with each inhale and relax with each exhale, which eventually brings greater range of motion. Most activities we do are outwardly focused, but examining our interiority is what makes yoga so unique. Because there is a history of addiction in my family, a benefit of yoga is that it has helped me maintain an awareness and an honesty around my behaviors so I can make good choices for myself. Inward focus and a healthy spine also enable us to sit still. Sitting alone in meditation can take a mere four minutes and makes a noticeable difference when done regularly. With increased practice, I find that I am able to pause before reacting to tense situations, creating a better outcome for everyone. Yes, yoga takes time, but the results are worth it. I need less sleep and have more energy. I am more patient, attentive, productive, and focused. As a mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, and neighbor, this is significant. My husband and I have been alone together with our dog for over three months now, rising before the sun for our daily practice. As a result, the shelter in place period has been extremely pleasant. I know there is so much more to learn and experience. It’s been said that the inward journey is vast. I’m ready. Mary McGowan teaches classical Hatha Yoga privately in Downtown Manhattan. If you are interested in learning more, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ESSENTIALS 2020 DOWNTOWNNYC
BLACK LIVES MATTER
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” —James Baldwin
DOWNTOWNNYC THE ESSENTIALS 2020
IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, on a street in Minneapolis, a Black man named George Floyd said his last words, with a white police officer's knee on his neck. "I can't breathe." The appalling video of the eight minutes and 46 seconds that Mr. Floyd was restrained and ultimately killed, reignited a movement. It is estimated that over 20 million people have participated in ongoing Black Lives Matter protests since that fateful Memorial Day weekend, making them the largest protests in world history. George Floyd has become a symbol, but he is so much more than that. He was a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and an American. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and the countless others who have died as a result of systemic racism did not ask to become symbols, and yet, they are. In a country whose founding principle is freedom, some Americans have never truly been free. Street photographer Clay Benskin has spent the past months documenting both the COVID crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests. His work, and the work of so many other journalists and photographers, is an important record of this unprecedented time. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." It is up to all of us to do the bending. DT
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CLAY BENSKIN
by Deborah L. Martin photograph by Clay Benskin
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