Respiratory therapist with St. Joseph’s Health shares what it’s like on the front lines of COVID-19

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen many Central New Yorkers come together to help one another, including our healthcare workers.

One Camillus man put his scuba business on hold to go back to his previous job as a respiratory therapist at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital and help his colleagues.

“Where I spend most of my time at St. Joe’s is either ICUs or emergency departments,” said Jason Meany.

Jason works directly with COVID-19 patients, managing their ventilators and working to keep them alive. “It’s not as chaotic as New York City is,” he said, but it does feel different.

They have certain standards and techniques to treat patients, but with COVID-19, they often have to make adjustments as they go.

"This is... what's working, what do you see with all these patients, how can we do better? Let's try this, let's try that," said Jason. "It's a little bit more of a challenge to work with them on some fronts of ventilation and disease progress. It doesn't present as consistently throughout the entire population."

So case by case, they’re all adapting to new challenges. One of them actually being the personal protective equipment. “You don’t get to see someone’s face, you don’t get to read body language between people,” said Jason.

There’s another challenge he faces every day. Like many on the front lines of COVID-19, Jason had to move out of his home to protect his wife Cheryl and their three kids, Stella, Cassidy, and Layla.

The Meany family

“They set coffee and scrambled eggs out for me and they come out on the porch. The kids come out, they understand, they normally draw me some sort of picture,” said Jason. He sits on the tailgate of his truck about 20 to 30 feet from his family. No hugs, no kisses — it’s the new norm — but it’s what he has to do to protect them.

“Some days I’ve got more hope than others, some days I’m a little worn down,” said Jason. Still, he has found a silver lining watching his team come together in a way like never before.

"There could be nervousness and unknown about what's going on with a patient and they really put their heart and soul into it," he said. Jason is grateful for all the techs, nurses, and every healthcare worker in the hospital but they can't do it alone. He's pleading for everyone to help those helping our community by social distancing.

“Physically distance from each other, that’s one of the biggest things that can help us,” said Jason. “If you overload us we can’t handle that.”

Which is why they keep saying we have to flatten the curve.


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