Peter D. Kramer and Seth Harrison,
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

YONKERS – Catherine Hopkins has seen the chaos of a COVID-19 emergency room — ambulances backed up waiting to drop off the sick, gurneys lining the halls, 11 people dying in one day — but she has also witnessed unforgettably tender moments, holding up a phone so a son can share what would be his last words with his mother.

“You don’t just walk away unchanged when something like that happens,” she said, her voice catching with emotion.

This isn’t Hopkins’ regular job at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, in the southwest corner of Yonkers. The 64-year-old family nurse practitioner is the hospital’s director of community outreach and school health.

Any other non-pandemic April, she’d be running four school-based clinics in the Yonkers schools, providing primary health care services in high-need areas.

“We do the physicals, the immunizations. We manage asthma, diabetes and obesity, all of that,” said Hopkins, who also manages the finances and the grants for the clinics.

But not these days.

With schools closed and the coronavirus creating an all-hands-on-deck situation, Hopkins has been logging 12-hour days, six days a week, alongside doctors and nurses in the emergency department, the ICU and on the medical/surgical floors.

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