Hospital ceremony honors health care workers, remembers lives lost to COVID-19


About one year has passed since South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore received their first COVID-19 patient.

To acknowledge the devoted medical care workers at South Shore and to remember the thousands of individuals who died from the coronavirus, the hospital hosted a ceremony Thursday, March 11.

The emotional ceremony, held just one year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, was led by the hospital’s director of spiritual services, the Rev. Sonia Trew-Wisdom.

Health care workers and others received a special blessing of the hands from Trew-Wisdom. She placed oil on the wrists of all recipients and said a blessing. The Benediction was provided by the Rev. Fr. Sylvester Chukwumalume.

“Everyone here uses their hands to bring about a communion between giving and receiving care,” Trew-Wisdom told the crowd of about 100 staff. “Your hands... are every day, in some way, an answer to someone’s prayer, or deep desire for comfort. The blessing of hands is a symbol of blessing on your daily work.”

Dr. Stephen Masiar, director of psychiatry and medical board vice president, discussed mental health, while registered nurses Ava Rubino and Stella Korsah offered reflections about their time working during the pandemic.

“What comes to mind is fear, fear of the unknown,” Korsah said. “I did a lot of praying, and I have never prayed in my life.”

When the pandemic first hit, Korsah experienced insomnia. After sharing that experience with a colleague, Korsah said her director responded: “She said, ‘Stella, you are not alone. We all feel the same,’” Korsah recalled.

SSUH executive director Donna Moravick said that the event was intended for every discipline that comes into the hospital that has cared for patients.

“Everybody can think about what it’s like inside the building, but not many people have been inside it,” Moravick said. “We all know what each of us has been through. I’ve been an N.P. and a nurse for 40 years, and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this. To see people crying, to see their emotion – it’s still raw.”

Four hundred yellow carnations were also distributed to the guests at the event. Participants could also take healing stones to encourage emotional strength amid the pandemic.

“We would not be in this position if not for the resilience, courage and tenacity of the entire SSUH team and supporting staff, who gave their all to care for the patients of our community, even in the face of grave danger to themselves and their families,” said Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter.

“Their steady hand in providing knowledge, care and comfort, played an invaluable role in helping us guide this town and its residents through the darkest period we’ve ever known,” she said. “For that, we are eternally grateful." 


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