We are all going through our own journey right now during this coronavirus pandemic, and each individual journey will have an impact on that person’s life. The following is a look at one man’s journey into one of the biggest hot spots of this pandemic.
Jason Vaughn is a Certified Nurse Practitioner at James Austin Health Center in Eden, NC. He is no stranger when it comes to helping others by providing excellent patient-centered health care to patients of James Austin Health Center, but for Jason’s journey, he is stepping out of his comfort zone and into a COVID-19 hot zone. Armed with a mask and a smartphone, Jason has volunteered to help others serve medical professionals on the front lines of the pandemic by delivering food to hospital staff in the area.
Queens Feeds Hospitals is a “grassroots, community-run initiative started with a simple idea in the time of COVID-19: Nourish our healthcare clinicians who are working under tremendous strain, and support our local restaurants who are struggling to survive”, according to Queens Feeds Hospitals Facebook page.
Jason will help Queens Feeds Hospitals deliver to the staff of amazing hospitals like Elmhurst Hospital and Mt. Sinai Queens. The initiative is working to serve other hospitals as well during this time of crisis.
This is Jason’s journey:
DAY 1, April 13th, 2020: The Journey Begins
Jason’s Journey begins with his account of sleeplessness during the evening, then pouring over into the early morning hours before his flight departs for Chicago, then on to New York. While Rockingham County, Caswell County, and other neighboring communities brace for what could possibly be a very bad storm, Jason fills up on coffee and attempts to get used to his new selfie stick. This is Jason’s first time ever being in this situation, from something as big as volunteering to travel to a hot zone, to something as small as holding a selfie stick. This is a learning experience Jason (and we) will never forget.
We are right there with you, Jason. This is as real as it gets.
Day 2, April 14th, 2020: All in a Day’s Work
Jason’s day began at 5:30 AM with a 5-mile jog down to pier 94 to catch a glimpse of USNS Comfort, a United States Navy hospital ship providing on-site care.
“They had a lot of NY City police officers guarding the entrance and they also had screens up to where you couldn’t see the ship fully.”
After his jog to the ship, Jason rented a bike to make it back to the hotel in time for work.
“I rented a bike because it took me too long jogging to see the ship. I had to get back to the hotel so I could begin my shift at 10:00 AM. The bike was $3 per 30 minutes. I’ve learned that the best mode of transportation is definitely walking or biking.”
Once ready, Jason had a 10-minute walk from the hotel where he began his work helping to prepare meals for the day with the rest of the Queens Feeds Hospitals volunteers. By the time his lunch break came, he was already beat. He walked back to his hotel for a quick lunch and rested before his next shift. At the end of the day, his hands had blisters and he was ready for some sleep.
Jason has met a lot of great people so far on his journey, including FEMA personnel from all over the U.S. who are staying at his hotel. Perhaps Jason will get some more insight for us into what they’re doing in the days to come. Stay tuned and be sure to check back tomorrow evening to see how Jason’s day went.
Day 3, April 15th, 2020: Jason Takes Manhattan
Once again, Jason’s day began at 5:30 AM. He took off to see the 9/11 memorial and then headed back to be at work at 10:00 AM. He helped Queens Feeds Hospitals put together around 500 meals before noon and then headed to Central Park.
“I’m working with a great group of people here. Chef Anup Joshi of Green Top Farms is an amazing chef and I’m glad I’m getting to know him and the rest of the crew.”
As he takes in the beauty of Central Park, he sees people walking their dogs and jogging, all while wearing face masks. He realizes that people still need to take their animals somewhere for exercise, as well as exercise themselves and get out in the sun. The best place for that in the city is the park.
Jason decides to see Times Square and get a glimpse into how busy it might be. Check out his day 3 video to follow along with him.
Day 4, April 16th, 2020: A Day in The Kitchen
Today, Jason takes us through the kitchen to show us the day-to-day behind the scenes operation. Chef Anup and his awesome crew cook the food and prepare it to be delivered to healthcare workers.
“Everyday these (empty) trays are put out by the hundreds or more and then an assembly line starts. Each person has one section of the tray to fill. Chef Anup coordinates, directs, and keeps the flow going. I’ve been doing it since Monday for a couple of hours and these are the guys who are doing it all day long. They do a great job! You never see anyone just standing around here.”
As Jason walks us through the kitchen, it’s evident that the system put in place to get a large amount of food out to healthcare workers is working like a well-oiled machine. He tells us that he was able to get a great interview with Chef Anup and the owner of Green Top Farms. We look forward to seeing it!
Day 5, April 17th, 2020: Jason Heads Home
It was a bittersweet moment for Jason as he said goodbye to the big city. He reflects on his time spent in New York helping out where he could and finds that beauty is all around him, even in the middle of a pandemic.
A conversation with an ICU physician leads to Jason giving us a rare look into his raw and real feelings about life as we know it now, not only in New York but back home as well. Meeting new people, especially those who are on the “front lines” has given him a deeper understanding of just how impactful this pandemic is and how seriously we need to be taking it.
As he packs up his smartphone and selfie stick, Jason heads back home to provide excellent patient-centered healthcare to his patients. This was Jason’s first time in New York, but it’s definitely not going to be his last.
Stay tuned for the full details of his journey coming soon.
Day 8: Jason’s Weekend
Since Jason’s return home to Rockingham County, NC, he has been self-quarantined and practicing social distancing within his own home with his son. They stay in separate parts of the house unless it’s absolutely necessary to be in the same area. Jason has food delivered to his house so he doesn’t have to go out and get any, and he’s stocked up for most of his quarantine at this point.
In today’s video, he talks about missing New York and what he’s learned, including the desire to start his own sustainable garden for a yearly “farm-to-table” experience. After speaking with Chef Anup and Josh Lee about sustainable farming, Jason has a strong desire to start doing this on a much smaller scale.
Throughout the video, we are reminded of the importance of wearing gloves, self-distancing, and staying home. By the end of the video, Jason is parked outside James Austin Health Center in Eden, NC where he is a provider, talking to us while he awaits the arrival of his curbside COVID-19 test.
Day 9: An Uncomfortable Test
We watch as Jason receives his COVID-19 test from James Austin Health Center in Eden, NC to see if he tests positive. If he tests negative, the next step is to get an antibody test to see if he had it already.
CMA Deanna Fowler demonstrates what the proper testing attire looks like before testing a patient. Amy Cassell, a JAHC nurse, administers the test to Jason curbside. Although it’s a quick swab, it can be a painful ordeal that makes the patient tear up because of how far the swab needs to be administered.
Once home, he reflects on the anxiety he’s starting to feel and understands why some people are feeling it right now. For now, it’s back to work for him as he sees patients via virtual visits.
Day 10: Early Test Results
Today, Jason tells us about receiving test results and whether or not he tested positive for COVID-19. His next step is more than likely going to be getting an antibody test.
Because he is still experiencing a bit of anxiety, he introduces us to The Caswell Family Medical Center, Inc.’s behavioral health director, Tania Majette. Tania helps us understand what anxiety is and gives us some tips on how to deal with it during this pandemic.
“A lot of tension is going on right now. A lot of people are out of work, not making a lot of money. $1200 doesn’t go very far. You got a house full of kids with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and anxiety is high. A lot of uncertainty around when we will be able to go back.”
Day 11: The Journey Ends (For Now)
We have come to the end of Jason’s Journey, but we hope that his time spent traveling to New York, volunteering for Queens Feeds Hospitals, meeting new people, and eventually receiving the good news that he is COVID-19 free has been a great experience for you as well.
Be sure to tune in next week as we will be delivering the full documented journey including never before seen footage from Jason’s time in New York.
Although this journey has ended, it’s definitely not the end of Jason’s story. In the weeks ahead, Jason will be delivering a bi-weekly series of videos for you that will touch on topics related to health and wellness.