Doctor comes out of retirement twice to help during COVID

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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Stacey Sager reports on a former doctor who has come out of retirement again to help with the second wave of COVID-19.

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- A doctor from Long Island came out of retirement to help at the start of the COVID pandemic to help those in need - and now she's doing it again.

Dr. Anne Sacks-Berg is returning to work for the second time after her official retirement from Huntington Hospital a year ago.

"People in medicine I think just have a tendency to want to run to the disaster," Sacks-Berg said. "I knew this was going to happen. And I told them when I left in May that I'd be happy to come back."

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sounded the alarm about staffing due to the second wave of COVID-19 expected to only get worse in the coming weeks.

He urged hospitals to identify retired doctors and nurses who could step in to help.

So for doctors like Sacks-Berg, an infectious disease specialist, it was an easy choice.

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Officials at the hospital said last spring they brought back half a dozen retirees, but they managed to keep them away from bedside care in the COVID ICU.

"They did everything from helping us in employee health services - helping care for our staff that were sick, to assisting with phone calls to patients and families," said Huntington Hospital President Dr. Nick Fitterman.

And while the prospect of a second wave is certainly concerning, it's far less scary this time around - according to all the doctors who spoke to Eyewitness News.

Right now the ICU count of COVID patients in Huntington Is five, but with better protection, treatments, and available beds, ICU doctors say we are on our way out of this.

They say their success will also come with the comradery and confidence from several retirees who have had a bit more rest and another healing power:

"With no fear whatsoever, like digging in, like they weren't even retired, was a great help, psychologically," said Dr. Cristina Pruzan.

It's an important boost to morale when frontline workers need it most.

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