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Former Student Athletes Provide Health Care for COVID-19 Patients

Kristen Bormann '15 and Nina Lurie '19 (SUNY Geneseo)

SUNY Geneseo prides itself on having well-rounded, civic-minded students who step-up during times of adversity. As the nation battles COVID-19, many essential employees and health care providers are going above and beyond every day. Kristen Bormann '15 and Nina Lurie ’19, both former student-athletes at Geneseo, are now fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. 

Kristin Bormann earned a degree in biology and was a member of the swimming & diving team. She went on to earn a nursing degree from the University of Rochester. Bormann is now a nurse at NYU-Winthrop, in Mineola, NY. Commuting from Brooklyn, Bormann lives and works in what is considered the epicenter of America's battle against the virus.

"Normally our unit would care for open-heart surgery patients after their operations," said Bormann, "Monitoring them and helping them manage pain and other symptoms with medication and other modalities."

Bormann's work conditions have changed significantly in the past few weeks, as her Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and Telemetry unit has been converted to care for COVID-19 patients. "It's a lot more difficult to define a 'normal' day anymore," she said. "We're still administering care, but every time we enter a room we have to suit up in personal-protection equipment, gowns, masks, and gloves. Not being able to freely enter and exit a room to check on my patients is the biggest difference."

Another student-athlete and recent graduate Nina Lurie, biology, is now attending Columbia University, in New York City. She is studying to become a doctor, but her clinical rotations have been interrupted by the spread of the virus.

In early March, “when COVID first popped up, there were a lot of unknowns. It was really scary," said Lurie. "I was completing a clinical rotation on a cancer treatment floor where all of my patients were immuno-compromised, so I was very worried I was going to bring the virus in with me after commuting through New York City."

Lurie has had to change course slightly. Instead of her scheduled clinical rotation, she will begin a new assignment in mid-April. "I'm going to be working as an ICU nurse-tech, caring for COVID-19 patients," Lurie said. "It's a voluntary option, but I feel like it's something that not only will help me learn and develop as a medical professional but also because it's the right thing to do."

Bormann and Lurie credit their experiences as Geneseo student-athletes with helping them to succeed in a world full of new challenges and adversity.

"Right now, nurses have to work together in every single thing we do," said Bormann. "Everyone is in the same boat at work, so everyone pitches in with every patient in order to succeed. Our work mirrors sports in that way where everybody is working together going out of their way to make sure their teammate is successful.

"Swimming at Geneseo prepared me for this kind of scenario because I learned how to handle being a small part of a larger team," she said. "I've got no problem sacrificing or going out of my way to make sure my teammates can succeed."

Lurie feels that managing the stress of balancing her rigorous biology course load and the time commitment that came with being a member of the tennis team has made her more confident in emergencies now. "We've had emergency situations where I've been able to stay calm and respond well to high-stress scenarios, where some of my peers have handled it more poorly," said Lurie. "I think my response in those kinds of situations has a lot to do with my time as a student-athlete at Geneseo. It's prepared me to take on this role."

Bormann and Lurie are just two of thousands of Geneseo alumni medical professionals and essential workers who are providing support to others during the COVID-19 crisis.

For information on Geneseo's response to the virus, visit https://www.geneseo.edu/coronavirus.

Adapted from a SUNY Geneseo Athletics' release by Brett Ford.