Vanessa Nalaboff began her career at Mt. Carmel Pharmacy and Surgicals in Bronx Little Italy shortly after 9/11 and today she is helping the community overcome COVID-19 and get vaccinated.
Nalaboff, 48, is one of the few employees at Mt. Carmel who did not get the coronavirus during the past year. Some of her colleagues were out up to five weeks.
She told the Bronx Times this was definitely the scariest and most challenging time of her career.
“I knew everyone was going to be okay,” she explained. “I just kind of felt it in my gut.”
Growing up in Long Island Nalaboff wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a living, but had a passion for math and science. One of her brothers went to pharmacy school with Roger Paganelli, owner of Mt. Carmel Pharmacy and that led her to where she is working today.
She attended St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and from there the rest is history. Her job has become a second home and over the years she has gotten to know the customers quite well.
“The community pharmacy always seems to have evolved to whatever the community needs,” she said. “I feel that Mt. Carmel is always up to the challenge. We’re the most accessible health care professionals available to anyone at anytime.”
When the pandemic arrived a year ago no one knew what to expect, she explained. Deemed essential, the pharmacy remained open, but things were not easy.
According to Nalaboff, at the height of COVID-19, Mt. Carmel had many scared customers and some that lost their lives to the virus. Nalaboff stressed that she did her best to stay focused and reassure residents that things will be okay.
“I actually have the type of personality where I thrive in chaos,” she stated.
Now, a year later, things are slowly headed in the right direction. In February pharmacies were allowed to administer vaccines and Mt. Carmel set up a tent outside where people who qualify and make appointments will receive a shot.
Nalaboff is glad the pharmacy is vaccinating people because not only is it hopefully preventing them from contracting COVID-19, but it will help people feel a sense of normalcy and get their lives back.
She noted that she enjoys the 15 minutes after they receive the shot as the patients share stories.
“It’s 100 percent the most fulfilling part of my career,” she remarked. “You really get to see how you’re making a difference.”