New York City hospital staff mark anniversary of 1st COVID patient

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UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Frontline health care heroes at a local hospital are commemorating the one-year anniversary of caring for their first COVID-19 patient.

Tireless heroes walked around Lenox Hill Hospital twice on Monday night, with cellphones lighting the way, to mark the solemn milestone.

"There is no human being that did not cry over the COVID pandemic," maternity nurse manager Maria de Leon said.

The anniversary comes with hope and heartache -- hope because of the vaccination efforts underway, but heartache because it comes too late for so many.

They read "The Miracle of Morning" from National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and they praised the staff for their dedication and their determination to treat COVID patients -- even when supplies were low and fear was high.

"We've had clapping, we had crying, but ultimately we had family and community," said Jill Kalman, MD, Former Executive Director of Lenox Hill Hospital.

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Each staff member was also awarded a medal of appreciation from hospital leadership to thank them for the unprecedented challenges of the past year and to celebrate their dedication.

In the darkest of days, when the city was Ground Zero and thrown into a deep lockdown, every night New Yorkers would cheer for the first responders. It was a heartfelt standing ovation on rooftops and fire escapes.

A church on the Upper West Side continues to play "God bless America" every night at 7 p.m.

It has become a tradition at many hospitals to blast "Here Comes the Sun" every time a patient recovers from COVID and goes home.

Perhaps the sun is finally starting to come out.

"The hope is that the cases are coming down and with that, there is hope the world will reopen and we will be able to go back to normal lives," said Dr. Yves Deroseau, Chair of Emergency Medicine.

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