Returning from retirement to help front-line workers

"You don't stop caring"
Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 18:30:16-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There is a renewed call for retired doctors and nurses to help hospitals deal with the rising COVID cases in the Western New York region.

Some have already stepped forward, willing to offer assistance.

Cherie Hepp, retired nurse, is helping at Children's Hospital in Buffalo during pandemic.

“You just don't stop being a nurse — you don't stop caring,” said Cherie Hepp, retired nurse.

For 40-years Hepp worked as a nurse at Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

But after retiring a couple of years ago, Hepp returned to children's in the spring offering help during the COVID-19 pandemic and she's staying on to provide support during this critical second wave.

“I’m not on the front line with the patients, but I’m there for the staff, helping out, so there's a lot of different areas that people retired can come back into,” Help explained.

Cherie Hepp, retired nurse, giving flu shots to help at Children's Hospital.

Right now, Hepp gives out flu shots, and then will be administering COVID vaccines to the hospital's health care workers.

“I wanted to get back to the people that I’ve worked with and the front-line workers — the health care workers — because they’re my family too and our community,” Hepp noted.

But as hospitalizations are spiking in Erie County, more front-line doctors will be vital.

“There are not enough front-line physicians. Those who have been working with out months with out a break,” remarked Dr. Lito Gutierrez, retired doctor.

Husband & wife, Dr. Elisabeth Zausmer, Dr. Lito Gutierrez are retired doctors from Buffalo.

Gutierrez and his wife, Dr. Elisabeth Zausmer of Buffalo, are both retired and, in their 70's.

But the both worked at the Javits Center, a temporary 'field hospital' in New York City last spring and say they’re willing to help locally

They weren't on the front-lines, but acted as liaisons for families and doctors.

“Helping to triage patients by talking to the doctors,” Zausmer.

“That was the most satisfying part of the job," reflected Gutierres.

"Yeah — it was great," recalled Zausmer.

"Just putting people at ease was just — most rewarding,” Gutierrez.

“Even if I had news that wasn't particularly good — people were grateful,” Zausmer described.

“Do you envision seeing a field hospital set up here?” Buckley asked.

“They are equipped to do it, whether it will be necessary or not — depends on the tsunami we are facing,” Gutierrez noted.

“If they do in fact open a field hospital, they may have to reenlist military or the National Health Service — one of the two or both,” Zausmer said.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul said she is working with the major hospitals in Western New York to come up with a recruitment list of who would be able to come back to the medical workforce.

Cherie Hepp, retired nurse, assisting at Children's Hospital.

“That nurse in me comes out you know and that’s what it is,” declared Hepp.