MTA Hero: Nurse runs critical service for agency's own workers during COVID-19

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News is honoring the essential workers who have kept the city running throughout the pandemic.

The first MTA Hero spotlight goes to two women who run a service that became critical for the agency's own workers.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, any MTA employee who didn't know about the Clinical Services Unit found out very quickly.

"They didn't know where to get a test. They were sick, coughing, shortness of breath some nurses had to make sure they could make it through the end of the phone call. We were calling 911 for a lot of the employees," said MTA Director of Clinical Services Wendy Marshall.

The MTA quickly set up a 24-hour hotline and staffed it with 80 nurses.

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The team, led by Marshall and Charlene Pickel, have now been named MTA Heroes of the Week for holding it all down during the unprecedented crisis.

"Charlene and I have been in the trenches from the beginning with the contract tracing," Marshall said. "With one positive that could mean 200 people being out."

And Marshall continued the work even when she herself was down and out.

She continued working the phones even when she had COVID-19.

"Well, it's the reason you become a nurse," Marshall said.

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Investigators say 54-year-old Asif Raja set the fire in several locations inside his restaurant, but the sprinkler system knocked the flames down.

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