New nurse walks through historic blizzard to get to work

A nurse who has been employed at a New York nursing home for six months fought her way on foot through a blizzard Saturday to make it to work.

Chantelle Diabete, a single mother in Washington Heights, found someone to watch her 3-year-old and stayed overnight in the Bronx to be close to the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. The area received close to 27 inches of snow over the weekend, forcing more than 50 other nurses and aides to not be able to report to work, Diabete's supervisor told the New York Daily News, which featured her story.

When public transportation was canceled and the storm grew, Diabete walked through a mile of treacherous conditions for about an hour Saturday afternoon. Her efforts in trudging through the worst of the storm “symbolizes all the good things in life,” said David V. Pomeranz, Chief Operating Officer at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

Long-term care residents are dependent on staff no matter what the conditions, he told McKnight's.

“Without the efforts of people like Chantelle they wouldn't have their needs met,” he said.

He added Diabete started as a certified nursing assistant and pushed through nurse training, and when he saw her Saturday, “she was smiling and happy.”

“She's really representative of a whole group of people who worked double and triple shifts. She's the symbol of all that's good of healthcare workers in all places who work through horrible circumstances,” he said.

Diabete's was case one of several notable instances of long-term care employees in the storm-stricken region going to incredible lengths to serve their residents. In Baltimore, which received a historic 29.2 inches, more than 100 employees at Levindale Hebrew Home Geriatric Center and Hospital arrived at 7 a.m. Friday and were still there Monday afternoon, said spokeswoman Helene King.

"It was all-hands on deck and everyone pitched in wherever they were needed to do, from nursing to facilities, environmental services to food services, and administration," she told McKnight's. "People slept in shifts and also made sure to have fun. That included baking 300 cookies and handing them out, having snow-jumping contests and even simply sitting with residents to watch the snow fall. It really was one great big family atmosphere."