Philadelphia nurse who recovered from COVID-19 helps community through pandemic

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Philadelphia nurse who recovered from COVID-19 helps community through pandemic
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This week's Hometown Hero is a woman who was one of Philadelphia's pioneers treating patients with COVID-19. And then it struck close to home.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When emergency room nurse Jennifer Gil reads the banner that says "Heroes Work Here" hanging over 10th Street next to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, she doesn't really think of herself.

"You see your community in need and you want to be able to do what you do best, and that's be a nurse," said Gil, who more than most, understands the danger of her job these past seven months.

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"We heard these kind of difficult and scary stories that a lot nurses who contracted COVID-19 ended up passing, so for me, it was a little scary," said Gil, who tested positive for the virus on March 20.

"We were screening ourselves before seeing patients and I had a fever and promptly went home, got tested, and found out that I had it," she said.

Gil is one of the first patients in Philadelphia to get COVID-19, but her biggest concern was never her own health, it was when she'd be able to go back to work.

"She just wanted to be able to be here to do what she was trained to do and I think again that spirit embodies all of the nurses here at Jefferson," said Jeff Doucette, the chief nursing officer for the hospital.

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Gil came back two weeks later with a newfound resolve, not only in work but in how she spends her time away from the hospital. She began organizing clothing and food drives through the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, advocating for PPE for healthcare workers everywhere. And this weekend, she'll be helping at a free flu shot clinic.

"I don't see it as going above and beyond. For me, it's just being able to help people. I think that's what makes nurses so special," she said.