Home COVID-19 Maxim Casas, ER Nurse at Christ Hospital in Jersey City

Maxim Casas, ER Nurse at Christ Hospital in Jersey City

by Jennifer Tripucka
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With all that’s going on, helping our health heroes is #1 priority right now. They are literally on the front lines, saving lives, often quarantining from their families and children, all to keep their loved ones and others safe. While we’re sitting at home complaining that we’ve run out of Netflix shows to watch {a new list here}, they’re putting on scrubs, heading into work, making difficult decisions, day in, and day out.

That’s why we are starting a new series to feature amazing people helping on the front lines, and sharing their stories and ways you can help them. We will also be sharing their Venmo {with their permission} if you would like to brighten their day with a donation directly – buying them a meal, a coffee, or just a little pick-me-up.

Maxim Casas, an ER nurse at Christ Hospital in JC is our first feature. Read on for her story, and at the end, how you can help Max and her hospital unit at Christ Hospital directly at the end of the post.

Have a health care provider you want to submit for a feature? Email their contact info to [email protected]!

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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Tell us about yourself:

My name is Maxim (Max) Casas, I was born and raised in Hoboken but have lived in Rutherford for the past 5 years. I am a proud Emergency Room Nurse at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, NJ and I have worked there for the past 5.5 years.

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

Nursing is actually my second career. I was a paralegal for about 5 years and felt that my work was not making a difference. One Christmas Eve, my now husband’s cousin mentioned he was going back to school for nursing and I said: “That sounds good, I’ll try that”. The next day I submitted my nursing school application, the following month I was accepted into a program, and a few years later I graduated and never looked back. It was the best career decision I ever made.

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

There have honestly been so many, however, about 2.5 years ago I did a medical mission trip in Peru which was absolutely incredible. It was a medical and cultural eye-opener. Right now, working the front lines of this pandemic is ranking up there. I have never in my life imagines I would be such an instrumental piece in a war this great on humanity. It is scary, yet humbling.

What has been the hardest day on the job?

Working in the ER presents nurses with so many difficult days, however the most challenging for me was just last week. It was Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and I was the Charge Nurse of the ER that day. Within moments, the entire ER became inundated with COVID patients – people being intubated, people requiring resuscitation, we were short nurses and at one point I said to myself, “There is no way this is going to end up good. We need help.” Taking care of a COVID patient is tedious and time-consuming and often nurses can only truly care for 2 at a time. Our assignment that day required us to care for 6 at a time which was a true challenge, but everyone pulled together, we stabilized patients and lost a patient, but we made it through.

Who is someone you look up to?

My mom is my hero. She is a breast cancer survivor, a mother of 2, a loving wife, a part-time daycare provider for my daughter and so much more. My mom is a ROCK and always puts everyone else before herself. She is selfless, reliable, funny, loving, and understanding. She is the person that makes you feel comfortable and welcome and loved. She goes out of her way to do what she can, even if that means you forgot butter from the grocery store and are already home, she’s got you, don’t worry. Her and my father have been helping my husband and I out so much during this pandemic by taking our daughter for days on end and making sure she is safe, as he is an essential worker as well. She is my idol and m hero.

Read More: ‘I Started to Lose My Sense of Taste + Smell:’ A COVID-19 Patient Shares Their Story

What qualities does a person need to do your job?

I have always said that it takes a very special person to be a nurse, but ER nurses are a different breed. It requires guts, confidence, fearlessness, bravery, a good sense of humor, a strong stomach, a good attitude, the ability to bounce back quickly, and heart… a lot of heart. We see a lot of bad things happen in the ER and no matter what it is, we have to continue our day and go on to take care of the next patient who needs our help. ER nurses are quite frankly do-it-all bad-asses.

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

We write a lot of work notes. Most people think ER is a zoo, and it certainly is. However, part of our job is writing work notes for people to be able to return to work. We double as a doctor’s office sometimes.

Describe a typical day on the job.

First, coffee. Our Unit Secretary goes out of her way to make us a strong pot of Bustello every morning and we love her for that. We take our assignments, and, lately, we huddle for the day, pray, say some encouraging words and go round on our patients. We take new vital signs, assess pain, check orders, see who is admitted, who can go home, ensure IVs are working properly, start new IVs, ensure we have all the rights tubes and masks at our bedsides and document everything we do. Throughout the day, we take care of our rotation of new patients, help co-workers with heavy assignments, team up to take care of that cardiac arrest that flies through the doors or rush that Stroke patient to CT scan. We take a lunch break on a good day, typically a 1-hour lunch for a 12-hour shift. At the end of our shift, we endorse our patients to the next nurse, tie up any loose ends on our patients whether it be administering medications or starting IVs with blood work. Once our patients and the oncoming nurse are situated, we go home and IMMEDIATELY go in the shower to wash the day off.

maxim casas health hero

How do you spend your free time?

I’m married and have a 1-year-old (she just turned 1 yesterday) and in my free time, I enjoy traveling with my family, going to concerts (especially the little one), going out in nature with our dog and eating… We love to eat!

I am a big supporter of St. Judes Children’s Hospital. My amazing little cousin, Ava, is a cancer survivor and my family makes annual donations as well as additional donations whenever she is involved with a fundraiser to St. Judes. Children are our future. The families of these children battling cancer should not be worrying about anything other than their child. I donate for my cousin Ava, I donate for families who have to endure the unimaginable, and I donate for a cure.

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

Every nurse is feeling the repercussions of the national shortage of PPE. My biggest challenge lies at home. It has been 3 weeks since I could kiss my family. My daughter turned 1 yesterday and I couldn’t kiss her and it broke me. I am currently isolated at home in our office and sleep on a twin-sized air mattress. I use a separate bathroom. I run from my garage to my house in my underwear every night leaving my work clothes outside in the garage. I wear a mask at home all the time. It has been an emotional challenge to be so distant from my family. I will maintain these measures until this virus is behind us, but I am struggling.

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

We see a lot of people complaining of cough, fever, and nausea/diarrhea/stomach pain. Lately, we have been seeing a lot of people who have lost their sense of smell and taste. Oddly enough, we do not see many people complaining of the “Shortness of breath” that seems to be a very specific symptom of this virus.

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

This virus spreads quickly and easily and there is no way to know how your body will react once you have been infected. Washing your hands is way more effective than wearing gloves. Staying home is way more effective than wearing a mask. Take Tylenol, not Motrin aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Aleve, or Advil. Drink a lot of fluids, even if you aren’t sick.

Do you know anyone personally affected by the virus?

Unfortunately, I know quite a few. My friend’s brother just recovered from the virus. My other friend lost her uncle to the virus. Many of my co-workers are out sick on quarantine because they have contracted the virus at work. At the end of this pandemic, we will all know someone who was affected by this virus.

How can we help? What can we do?

I know it has been said over and over but staying home is the best thing you can do for us! Consult your doctor before barging into the ER with a stuffy nose thinking it’s the virus. Do not go to get tested if you do not have symptoms, we are experiencing a shortage of tests also and need those in the hospital. We encourage everyone to proceed as if you do have it and are contagious. If you go food shopping, get what you need for the next 2 weeks to limit your risk of exposure by going out. AND WASH YOUR HANDS!

See More: COVID-19 Testing Sites in New Jersey + Your FAQs Answered

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

We have been receiving donations from food, to masks and gloves, vitamin C tabs, Redbull, water to Christ Hospital and we are eternally grateful! We need these things. If you would like to donate anything to us, please call 201-795-8280 and ask for the nurse in charge and he/she will be able to help direct you. Stay safe everyone!

As a team, with each nurse’s approval, we’re sharing their Venmo account info if you want to gift them a meal personally/send a thank you.

See below for Max’ QR code/Venmo – let’s directly spread some cheer to her:

maxim casas nurse

Have a health care provider you want to submit for a feature? Email their contact info to [email protected]!

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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