first coronavirus patient
Northwell nurse Mary Ann Brussels, her husband, Northwell nurse Naph Jabon, and 10-month-old son, Lyon. Brussels was treated at LIJ for Covid-19 in April 2020. (Courtesy Northwell Health)

Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) commemorated the anniversary of the first coronavirus patient admitted to the New Hyde Park hospital with a ceremony on Thursday.

Medical leaders from LIJ and Northwell Health, which operates LIJ, spoke and reflected upon the enormous impact of the past year. To mark the occasion, they presented a mural, “Frontline Warriors,” and heard from a Covid-19 survivor who was treated at LIJ.

“You showed up when you were scared,” Michael Goldberg, executive director of LIJ, said to Northwell’s healthcare workers. “You showed up when the information about this disease was scarce. You showed up when you were uncertain about your safety. You showed up to fight an invisible enemy. You are frontline warriors.”

Angela China and Sergio Barrale, creators of “Frontline Warriors” painting. (Courtesy Northwell Health)

Queens artists Angela China and Sergio Barrale, who created the mural, also offered remarks at the ceremony. The painting shows healthcare workers locking arms, hands in fists like superheroes, and wearing personal protective equipment, an image that hospital leaders say has risen spirits for the staff and represents their unity throughout the pandemic.

Mary Ann Brussels, a Northwell nurse in Manhasset, who contracted Covid-19 while 34 weeks pregnant in April 2020, spoke emotionally about her time being treated at LIJ — her husband, Naph Jabon, and 9-month-old son, Lyon, by her side.

“Seeing my son, my family, everyone was OK,” she said, “it made me more determined to serve. I am grateful to be here with my coworkers … and I am honored to join you all for this ceremony to salute our frontline workers with this beautiful mural.”

Brussels was admitted to the hospital on April 23, 2020 with difficulty breathing due to Covid-19. That same day, she gave birth to Lyon by cesarean section. Two days later, she was intubated.

Front, from left: Michael Goldberg, executive director of LIJ; Dr. Richard Schwarz, medical director of LIJ; Angela China and Sergio Barrale, creators of “Frontline Warriors” painting; Nurse Sandra Lindsay, first American to receive Pfizer vaccine; and Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. Back: Northwell nurse Mary Ann Brussels, her husband, Northwell nurse Naph Jabon, and 10-month-old son, Lyon. (Courtesy Northwell Health)

“You not just saved my life, you saved my son’s life,” she said to the LIJ staff. “I would like to thank LIJ, my Northwell Health family … I got intubated April 25 but thanks to God, thanks to everyone here, I am here with my family right now … I will be forever thankful.”

Sandra Lindsay, director of critical care at LIJ, who was the first American to receive a Covid vaccine outside clinical trials, also spoke at the ceremony.

“As mentally and physically exhausting as the past year has been, it has been a great privilege to stand together, much like the figures in this beautiful painting,” she said. “I know that we can get through this together.”

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus.

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