Alexandra Maravic, RN at New York-Presbyterian Columbia

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Healthcare workers are still at the top of everyone’s minds. As they remain on the frontlines of this pandemic every day, risking exposure to COVID-19 to save lives, it’s our duty to make their lives as easier — in any small ways that we can — and show them our gratitude and appreciation. As much as quarantine may be driving us all crazy, we can’t forget that it’s because of those on the frontline that we are able to stay home safe.

These heroes deserve endless amounts of praise and respect for their dedicated and fearless work, and our Healthcare Heroes series is our effort to show them just that. In this edition of the series, we were fortunate to speak with Alexandra Maravic, a registered nurse from New York-Presbyterian Columbia on a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. Here’s her story.

Have a health care provider you want to submit for a feature? Email their contact info to hello@hobokengirl.com!

PS: Make sure to go to your windows/balconies nightly to cheer all of our incredible healthcare professionals at 7:00PM each evening.

Alex Maravic

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Alex Maravic and I’ve lived in Hoboken for 3 years. 

What is your current occupation and how long have you been doing it for?

I’m an RN at New York-Presbyterian Columbia on a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. I’ve been here for about two years. 

What was your original career plan? How did you get into this career?

I honestly can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. I’ve always been passionate about science and helping people so it seemed like the perfect career choice for me. I chose to specialize in Oncology because I lost my dad to brain cancer when I was 16 and I will never forget how amazing his doctors and nurses were. I wanted to dedicate my life to taking care of people, especially those diagnosed with cancer, in hopes of making a lasting difference in their lives just like those doctors and nurses did for me.

Read More: Kristin McKitish, MD at the Hoboken University Medical Center 

So far, what has been the highlight of your career?

One of the best parts of my job is watching people recover from transplant and being able to do the things they love again like traveling, spending time with family, and even going back to work. We literally save people’s lives every day and it’s amazing to be a part of that.

What has been the hardest day/scariest day on the job?

Because of everything going on, the hospital doesn’t allow visitors anymore. Patients can be in the hospital anywhere from one to six weeks, meaning they are unable to see their families for that entire period of time. It has been really hard to see patients dying alone, unable to say goodbye to their loved ones. It’s something that no one should ever have to experience. 

Who is someone you look up to/your hero?

I have the privilege of working with really incredible nurses. I watch my coworkers consistently go above and beyond for our patients. We celebrate all the good days and lend a shoulder to cry on during the bad ones. No matter what, we always put our patients’ needs and well-being first. 

What qualities does a person need to do your job?

Oncology nursing requires a lot of compassion, patience, empathy, and resilience. We see a lot of very sad, disheartening things every day. But there’s a lot of good happening here too. 

What’s something that people wouldn’t expect about what you do on a daily basis?

Since they stop serving food after 6:00PM or so for the patients, by the time I get to work, there aren’t a lot of meal options. Quite often, someone will ask for something to eat after that time so we have to get creative. I’ve made many PB&J sandwiches and milkshakes in my nursing career. A lot of our patients have poor appetites so we encourage them to eat whatever they want. No one can turn down an ice-cold Haagen Dazs shake before bed, that’s for sure. 

See More: Meet Grace Suttle: A Jersey City Med Student Joining the Fight Against COVID-19

Describe a typical day on the job.

I work nights so I leave Hoboken around 5:40 on a normal day to be at work, ready to go by 7:00PM. When I get to work, I get my patient assignment and then report from the day shift nurses. After I say hello to my patients and see if they need anything, I usually start making a list of what tasks I’ll need to do throughout the night and make a plan.

How do you spend your free time?

My days off are usually spent doing very exciting things like catching up on sleep, going grocery shopping, and other household chores. I love to cook so I look forward to trying out new recipes every week. Reading is definitely my favorite hobby {see @hobokenbooksta on Instagram} and I spend some time each month writing up some of my current favorites for Hoboken Girl! 

Are there organizations that you feel strongly about and support? Tell us about them.

I was a founding member of the Fairfield University Love Your Melon Chapter. Love Your Melon is an amazing organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with cancer. 50% of the money they raise from their apparel website goes to funding pediatric cancer research and supporting patients and their families in any way possible. We also visited various hospitals throughout Connecticut to donate hats and spend time with some of the kids. These were honestly some of my fondest college memories. 

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a healthcare worker during this pandemic?

The lack of resources and equipment was difficult in the beginning. Policies and procedures were changing every hour. Every night I would come into work and the rules would be different. Staffing has also been a challenge as coworkers became ill across the hospital and we are being pulled to work on other units. Our unit is technically still “clean” because our patients are extremely immunocompromised, meaning they literally have no immune systems whatsoever. This virus could be extremely deadly to our patient population so it’s been stressful trying to do everything we can to protect them. 

What are the most common symptoms you’re coming across?

Cough, fever, loss of taste/smell, shortness of breath, diarrhea, congestion, runny nose.

What is one thing you want the public to know about the virus?

No one is immune or exempt from contracting this virus. There are a wide range of symptoms that people may not necessarily associate with COVID so they don’t think they are sick. It’s not just the elderly. There are healthy people in their 20s requiring ventilators. 

Do you know anyone personally affected by the virus?

Unfortunately, many of my coworkers have been sick and have been out for weeks.

How can we help? What can we do? 

The most helpful thing you can do is to STAY HOME. While we hope things are starting to calm down, we are not out of the woods yet. In order to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the most vulnerable members of society, it is so important to self-isolate and stay away from other people. This hasn’t been easy for any of us, but especially hard for those who have lost their moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. By doing your part and staying home, you are allowing us healthcare workers to do our jobs more efficiently and effectively, which in turn will save lives. 

 If someone wanted to donate food/supplies/etc to you/your team, how could they do that? 

The best way would probably be to reach out to me via email to set something up! (alexandradmaravic@gmail.com)

Have a health care provider you want to submit for a feature? Email their contact info to hello@hobokengirl.com!

PS: Make sure to go to your windows/balconies nightly to cheer all of our incredible healthcare professionals at 7:00PM each evening.

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Corinne is a Jersey girl who has always loved to write, create, and make people laugh. Always the “comedian” of the friend group, she's a stand up comic and aspiring comedy writer. She studied communications/film and media at the University of Miami, with a minor in both psychology and exercise science, but now she’s living in downtown Jersey City. Singing and playing the guitar and piano are her favorite hobbies when she’s not writing, working out, or going to comedy shows.


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