Written by Denise M. Anchico
Anyone who has a nurse in their life knows what a roller coaster of emotions the coronavirus pandemic has caused. One such nurse, Leon Chen, remains near and dear in the hearts of all Hauppauge Public Library staff members, as we consider him part of our family.
Leon Chen’s mother-in-law is Rose Rodzevik, who has worked as a Guest Services Specialist at our library for 15 years. Rose and her husband, Greg, have lived in Hauppauge for 37 years. Rose’s daughter, Jennifer, is married to Leon and they have a 7-month-old son named Carter. Jennifer, also a nurse, graduated from Hauppauge High School and is currently on maternity leave. She and baby Carter are staying with Rose and Greg until the whole family can be safely reunited without risk of exposure. Although Rose is enjoying every moment spent with her grandson, Leon’s health and safety remain in her thoughts and prayers each day the family remains separated.
With a background in emergency and critical care, and about ten years of experience, Leon Chen is a Critical Care Medicine Nurse Practitioner with the Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, having received both his bachelors and masters from NYU, as well as a doctorate from Chatham University.
When asked what life has been like for him during this pandemic, The Buzz was impressed by Leon’s response, not only answering for himself but for others in his profession. “As with all other critical care clinicians, I’ve been very busy treating an overwhelming number of sick COVID-19 patients. Every single hospital’s critical care system has been operating beyond usual capacity to care for the surge of patients. My colleagues and I are all doing our best to provide optimal treatment for all of our patients. At the same time, we are all worried about our loved ones and for their wellbeing. We don’t want to endanger our families to the virus if we are exposed.”
Naturally, the hardest part for him is to be separated from his wife and son. “We Facetime every day but not being around my family and missing our son’s childhood is very difficult.” Leon goes on to point out that many COVID-19 patients do not survive and, because of the risk of infection, they often die without their loved ones around. “It’s extremely sad to see people die alone and many of my colleagues are traumatized by the human suffering.”
Yet, even in the midst of all the chaos and sadness, Leon still finds his profession rewarding. “In my field, we see many sick patients and we’re not able to save all of them. But I’m comforted by the fact that we helped them to the best of our ability and maintained their dignity and comfort if we’re not able to heal them.”
As for advice to anyone considering becoming a nurse practitioner, Leon told The Buzz, “This is a really challenging profession. People don’t think of it as a risky profession, but this pandemic really brought to light the danger faced by healthcare professionals. With that being said, it’s a rewarding profession and if you’re committed to be knowledgeable and to help people, you should absolutely consider nursing.”
Everyone at the Hauppauge Public Library wishes Leon, Jennifer, Carter, Greg, Rose, and all their extended family members, a safe and healthy reunion. As we head into National Nurses Month, our gratitude toward Leon Chen, and all nurse practitioners, is immeasurable. 2020 is truly the ‘Year of the Nurse.’If you are interested in entering the nursing profession, the American Nurses Association is a good place to start your research. Click on the following link for information on accredited schools, programs, best practices, and certifications: https://www.nursingworld.org/