Thank You, Reema Khalid, for Uprooting Your Life to Serve During the Pandemic

Stuck at home for months with my husband and two sons, I felt isolated and detached, but my experience was nothing compared to yours. You were stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle of caring for sick and dying patients, sleeping in a hotel room until your next shift, and then you waking up and doing it all over again. People called it “wartime nursing” — resources were slim and demand was high, but you did all you could to save people. 

I remember when the first COVID-19 death was reported in my area. I heard on the news that grieving families couldn’t see their loved ones in person, and that healthcare workers like you were doing everything they could to bring comfort to both the sick and the families. When you lost your first patient, you called their family and held the phone over the body so they could say goodbye. Sadly, this became the norm for you and so many other nurses. 

I’ll admit, I began to lose faith when the pandemic hit. I felt hopeless without a tangible way to make a difference during this difficult time. But the journey only motivated you. You worked in New York City during Ramadan, the holiest month in your religion, and you were spending it alone. But as much as the distance from your loved ones during this month grieved you, it also motivated you. Your faith in God kept you going, and you knew there was a reason you were there. 

In New York state, the pandemic continues, and there was even talk of using medically trained National Guard members to fill staffing shortages caused by medical personnel who refused vaccination. You’re not alone in your hotel anymore, or in a faraway hospital sharing a home-cooked meal with a physician and fellow Muslim. But you continue to serve in your own community. You completed your degree to become a nurse practitioner, and you’re back at your local hospital, caring for patients suffering from COVID-19. The losses keep coming, and they’re painful — but every day, you’re grateful for your health and for the science behind the vaccines. 

Reema, we thank you. For your sacrifice, for uprooting your life and leaving your support system, and for allowing compassion to guide you as you care for those in need. It’s been almost two years since you worked in New York, and we appreciate that you continue to use your skills to help people affected by COVID-19. Because of frontline healthcare workers like you — courageous nurses who are willing to sacrifice their own well-being for the common good — our country will begin to heal. We couldn’t do it without you.

Thank you,


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