Former reporter, sickened with COVID-19, wants help for nurses in the Hampton Roads region

COVID-19 Vaccine

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY)– A former reporter who covered her hometown of New York City remains on oxygen at Consulate Health Care of Norfolk. She can barely walk and suffers from fatigue.

10 On Your Side first published stories about Debbie Cohen in August when the air conditioning at Consulate failed. Cohen says, for the most part, the AC works but what has failed is the facility’s nurse staffing system.

Debbie Cohen using a device to strengthen lungs. (Photo courtesy: Debbie Cohen)

“They [nurses] work 10 to 12 hours a day and they are really stressed — such as many nurses do — so we really need help here,” she said.

Nursing help is needed across the nation. The state of Oregon recently called up 1,500 National Guard troops to help with staffing at 20 hospitals. The state of New York is also considering the use of National Guard troops, as the state is poised to fire thousands of health care workers who have refused to get coronavirus vaccines by Monday.

Oregon National Guard members. (Photo courtesy: Oregon National Guard)

Cohen is calling on Consulate and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to throw a lifeline to those who have kept her alive.

“I want to make a plea to the corporate office to take social responsibility… I want to make a plea also to Governor Northam to hire military doctors and nurses and increase the pay of CNAs [Certified Nursing Assistants]… that’s why a lot are quitting,” she said.

Cohen is slowly improving and regrets she failed to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She calls on the hesitant to follow the science and not the cacophony of misinformation on the internet.

“Please do not listen to the conspiracy theories. Please do not listen to them, such as [misinformation saying] there are tracking chips in the vaccine,” she said.

Previously, Cohen also lamented the politicization of the pandemic.

(Photo courtesy: Debbie Cohen)

“Don’t do what I did, [do] not let people — whether they are on the right or left, Democrat or Republican, whatever — convince you it is a conspiracy. I want to tell everybody this is not a government conspiracy; the vaccine does not have chips in it or fetal tissue,” said Cohen, who plans to get the vaccine in the near future.

10 Oon Your Side reached out to Consulate Health Care. WAVY-TV is awaiting a response from the corporate office.

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