Working at Montefiore Moses for 19 years as a respiratory therapist has been her first and only job in the field, yet nothing could have prepared Jacklyn Tulipano for the COVID-19 crisis.
Tulipano, 40, a Throggs Neck resident, has been a respiratory therapist for nearly two decades. She stands by critically ill patients as they are put onto and taken off ventilators, the devices people have heard so much about in recent months.
“There is no way to have been prepared for what we had to deal with,” she said.
Her interest in becoming a respiratory therapist began when she was a young adult and her mom, Theresa Cornish, got sick.
Since COVID-19 arrived, her job and home lives have been turned upside down. She works 12-hour shifts three days a week and has seen the amount of patients triple.
Tulipano recalled the sadness and despair she has seen in patients and colleagues eyes as they battle COVID-19 and try to save lives. She noted that since family members are not allowed in their rooms, she has become a “family” for the patients as they struggle to breathe.
She credits a lot her sanity to her best friend Deniz, who is also respiratory therapist at Moses with her. They drive to and from work together and understand what the other is going through.
Once Tulipano arrives home, she immediately disinfects herself and hops in the shower. While every fiber in her body wants to pass out, she makes sure to spend time with her 9-year-old daughter Taylor and her husband Richie.
Taylor often asks if she is going to work the next day and if the answer is yes, her face reveals how scared she is.
Looking ahead, she feels things are improving, but she knows the pandemic is not over.