Yaakov Shereshevsky, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at NYU Langone Health’s Kimmel Pavilion, has started to give last rites to Jewish patients with 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), since rabbis are not allowed in hospital rooms. The 34-year-old is an Orthodox Jew who lives in Georgetown, Brooklyn, with his wife and four children.
Shereshevsky recently gave an account to The New York Times of what a typical day looks like on the job. He wakes at 6:00AM and prays for 15 minutes before driving to work. Once he arrives, he gets reports on the patients he is caring for. Donned in his personal protective equipment (PPE), which he changes constantly, he begins his care, which includes administering medication to his patients, helping to turn them so they can breathe better and avoid skin deterioration, and brushing their teeth.
While Shereshevsky is not trained to give last rites to the Jewish community, he has been saying the Viduy in Hebrew, then in English when patients are near death.
“I’m not an emotional person, but it’s a rough thing to get through,” Shereshevsky says. “It hurts. If their death is imminent, I wait with them. Then I pull it together in the elevator and return to my patients.”
Shereshevsky says the camaraderie with his fellow nurses, listening to classic rock, and spending time with his wife and kids are helping him through this challenging time.
Read more from The New York Times.