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Heart to Heart

Meet Our Health Heroes: Chris Raucci

At SYJ, service is a pillar of our practice. We believe that yoga should be available for everyone who chooses to practice it, and through Project SYJ, we strive to make that vision a reality.

Last fall, we decided to focus these efforts on showing our gratitude to the healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community by offering free year-long subscriptions to our Virtual Studio.

The SYJ community stepped up with generous donations to make this a reality. We are humbled to offer these free subscriptions in the hopes that we can make a small difference in the lives of those who are sacrificing so much day in and day out.

If anyone deserves a little peace in their lives, it is our healthcare heroes, like Chris Raucci. We hope you’ll read and take a moment to sit with her story.

This is what grit looks like.

Name: Chris Raucci
Occupation: Registered nurse at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT (7 years)

Can you tell us a little bit about your work during the pandemic?

I am a single mom with four small children ages 6, 5, and twins who are 3. I work night shifts and mostly weekends, so I can be home with them during the day.

Last year during the peak of the pandemic, it was scary. My kids went to stay with their dad when school transitioned to online in March 2020. We did it for safety, but also so I could help out in the hospital more. I was working almost every day.

The volume in the hospital was so high and we were very short staffed. The hospital was full and almost all of them were COVID-19 patients. It was challenging, but I honestly work with some amazing people and we just kept working together as a team and supporting each other day after day.

That, as well as the incredible support from the community, was the only way we made it through that difficult time.

What are things like for you at the hospital now?

Things are better now, thank goodness, but we are still seeing cases daily.

It has been difficult for not only us as healthcare workers, but for patients and their families as well.

We have been utilizing iPads to allow patients to FaceTime with their loved ones since we have a strict “no visitor” policy. It is heartbreaking sometimes to have to hold that iPad for a patient so they can see their family members (sometimes for the last time), but the families are so grateful and understanding.

We still continue to have strict isolation procedures, so each time we enter a patient’s room we must put on a gown, gloves, face mask, face shield, and eye protection. As you can imagine, it takes time to gown up and get ready to go into a room, so it’s important to have everything you need before you enter!

What’s kept you going through it all?

Though there are rough days, it has also been very rewarding to be part of a team of people who care so much about their patients.

Yes, we have seen some unfortunate, and very sad and difficult situations, but we have also experienced some very sick patients who were eventually able to recover. It is the most incredible feeling to know that you (and a team of people) fought so hard to keep someone alive and here they are walking out of the hospital. It’s been very emotional at times.

Even when these patients are in the ICU on ventilators, incredibly sick and unable to communicate, you still form a bond with them and their families, and we want nothing but the best outcomes for all our patients.

I never thought I would experience anything like this in my life, but it has taught me so much about myself, my family, and solidified my “why” for becoming a nurse. It’s been hard, but I am grateful for every moment.

I have used fitness as my outlet throughout this whole pandemic, and often found myself shedding so much “emotional weight” (often more than I realized I was carrying) throughout my workouts. It has truly been a lifesaver, so thank you so much again for your offer and I am looking forward to joining some classes.

Thank you Chris, for your service and dedication to helping others. We are so happy to have you with us.

If you’re interested in making a donation to help us provide the gift of wellness to more healthcare workers, or you have someone you’d like to nominate to receive a membership, please reach out to bk@syjyoga.com.

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