Page 9 - Work Force May 2020
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‘This thing is not anything to play with:’ Green recounts experience with COVID-19
 BROOKLYN — CSEA SUNY Downstate Local President Althea Green spent 15
days battling the deadly coronavirus in the very hospital where she normally battles management.
Green is home
Althea Green gets treatment for COVID-19. (Photo provided by Althea Green)
pandemic ravaged through New York.
“When they took me into the ER, I was talking to nurses,” Green said. “By the time they started taking me upstairs, I was done.”
She recalled requests to sign a DNR order (do not resuscitate) and the excruciating use of medical devices to pump oxygen into her lungs that “felt like it was crushing my brain.” Fortunately, she didn’t require intubation or the use of
a ventilator which were on high demand.
“I am grateful for going to Downstate,” said Green. “Those nurses, aides and doctors worked on me. They were determined.”
Just as determined were her fellow CSEA members, who made sure she received the presidential treatment during her stay.
“My colleagues brought food when I was able to eat,” said Green. “They brought me tea, porridge and all types of food to help strengthen me. That would not have happened at any other hospital.”
She singled out her union officers and activists for additional praise. “I am so proud
of Moe (Maurice Dunaway),” said Green. Aside from running
the local’s daily affairs, he also made sure her needs were met.
Home now
and slowly recovering, Green is using an oxygen tank regularly and doing exercises to strengthen her lungs and limbs. “This is not a momentary thing,” she said. “There will be a period of recovery.”
Green mourned the loss of CSEA members who were not as fortunate and died of coronavirus-related
 now and
recuperating, but she has a warning for anyone who may try to trivialize or downplay the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
“This thing is not anything to play with,” said Green. “It’s as serious as a malignant cancer.”
Green’s ordeal began near the early stages of the pandemic in
New York, which soon became the epicenter for the nation. Despite recently having a medical procedure, she was at work. After developing
a fever, she walked over to the emergency room but was soon discharged.
The following day, she traveled
to another hospital where she had her recent medical procedure. Despite being told that her lungs were compromised and possibly had pneumonia, she was discharged. “As I went to get the discharge papers, I remembered feeling very weak,” said Green.
‘I am grateful’
During the early morning a few days later, Green said she was unable to move from her bed and an ambulance was called to take her to SUNY Downstate, which was eventually designated by the state as a COVID-19 only facility as the
May 2020
In this file photo from July 2019, SUNY Downstate Nursing Station Clerk Michael Burt, SUNY Downstate Local President Althea Green and Buildings and Grounds Department Supervisor Felix Smith to discuss the closure of a facility parking lot.
jobs, care and treatment responsible for saving her life.
“My message to the politicians is to ‘Don’t act like a Scrooge.’ These hospitals are utilizing all their resources to save lives,” said Green. “Staff are overworked and equipment and supplies are in high demand. They have done extraordinary work and now they want to punish them? God forbid we get a second wave and we won’t have the people or equipment to keep people alive.”
While she felt an overwhelming sense of peace in her initial semi- conscious state, Green said she wouldn’t wish this virus, which
is disproportionately affecting members of the African-American and Latino communities, on anyone.
“If they were in the position that I was in, let’s see how their thinking would change,” Green said. “As long as they are not feeling it, they don’t give a damn.”
— David Galarza
illnesses, including her co-worker Curwin King, a recovery transporter.
“I had just spoken to Mr. King,” said Green, referring to some papers he had picked up at
her office. He had been caring for his wife, who suffered from diabetes which resulted in a leg amputation.
“He was a hard worker and diligent husband,” said Green. “When
I heard that he passed, it stung me. I will always
remember this tall Black man coming through the hallways, just doing his job.”
Gearing up for another fight
While not ready to return to work, Green is already gearing up for the next fight. She has a message for politicians who may be looking to shortchange or eliminate the kind of
  “My message to the politicians is to ‘Don’t act like a Scrooge.’ These hospitals are utilizing
all their resources
to save lives. Staff
are overworked and equipment and supplies are in high demand.”
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