Spring on the York College campus

On the Front Lines in NYC

"We will rise. We will heal. We will overcome."
Katie in nursing gear and mask

“You prepare to be adaptive and adjust to changes in the medical field,” Katie (Murphy) Schicchi ’09 says. “But even with that, I don’t know if you’re ever quite ready for a pandemic.” 

For the bulk of her career at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, Schicchi worked in adult oncology and medical surgical nursing. A year ago, she moved to the operating room. When the outbreak of COVID-19 first began, elective surgery cases were canceled, and nurses were reassigned to answer the demand of new patients. She offered to go back to her previous floor knowing they needed the help.

“I’ve seen a lot of different emergency scenarios in the past 10 years,” Schicchi says. “I can deal with stressful situations, but in a time like this, you really rely on the support of your team. Being an efficient unit and banding together is one of the positive things I’ve seen come out of this experience. Many of our patients are coming in without family members, and they rely on the nursing staff to bring them back to health or help comfort them.” 

Schicchi might be working with up to 15 patients on her own, without the assistance of CNAs or patient care techs, on one of the three to four 12-hour shifts she works a week. Sometimes those extend three or four hours depending on the needs of the unit, she says. 

Through it all, her family has been incredibly supportive. While she can’t see her family right now, she regularly checks in with FaceTime or Zoom. And her husband, who refused to be quarantined from his wife, is there to help her in the few hours she is home each day. 

Schicchi is reminded of the foundation York College provided her to work in this field. “The faculty there prepared me to go into the workforce and be an active member of the team. I feel I’m prepared to handle the situation the best I could. It was a challenging education, but I reaped the benefits of that in the workforce.” 

Schicchi draws on the strength of the mantra that’s been used by many at her hospital, and she thinks that can apply to anyone waiting to see the world emerge from the coronavirus: “We will rise. We will heal. We will overcome.”