Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, made headlines when she became the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Images of her taking the shot were signs of hope.
Lindsay is a part of the CUNY family, too – she received her nursing degree from Lehman College. The New York Times reported that Lindsay, whose family immigrated from Jamaica, had “volunteered [for the vaccine] in an effort to appeal directly to men and women of color who are skeptical of vaccinations in general,” mentioning “the legacy of the Tuskegee study, which began in 1932 and withheld treatment from Black men with syphilis to analyze the effects.” Lindsay told the Times that the vaccine “is rooted in science, I trust science, and the alternative and what I have seen and experienced is far worse.”
“The CUNY system is extremely important because it’s an affordable, quality education,” she told Clarion in an email the day after she received her vaccination. “My experiences there were positive and I felt supported. The professors helped mentor me, get me through my studies there.”
Lindsay added that CUNY could play an enormous role in training nurses and other health care workers during a time when front-line workers are needed the most. In the spring, she oversaw the opening of six new intensive care units, taking in triple the usual number of patients, according to the Times.
Lehman’s nursing program, however, is in crisis, as it lost its accreditation. “[Forty five] Lehman College nursing students expecting to graduate in January 2021,” and “[e]xpectant graduates found out about the college’s loss of accreditation this past November,” Gotham Gazette reported.
“We need to prepare nurses for the next crisis,” Lindsay said. “No preparation could have prepared me for this. I just didn’t know; no one did. Now that we’ve seen a global pandemic, it’s important to incorporate some form of nursing in a crisis into the curriculum. It’s not just science but the art of nursing, which is caring for patients, their families and each other at its core.”