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Gaels Fight the Good Fight During the Pandemic

With true Gael spirit, many Iona alumni put themselves on the front line in the fight against COVID-19. From caring for sick and frightened patients to making protective face shields to bringing stability to the daily lives of young students, our alumni contributed selflessly to those in need.

There are many ways in which Gaels contributed to the fight against the virus. Louis Cordasco ’85, director of environmental services for New Crystal Restoration, and his team worked at three New York City hospitals disinfecting and cleaning, including the rooms of COVID positive patients, emergency rooms and ICUs. They also assembled hospital beds and renovated space to make room for more patient care.

 “When the call came to help during the pandemic, our team bravely responded,” said Cordasco. “It was remarkable to see health care professionals on the front line working tirelessly to help patients. I gained a deep appreciation for doctors, nurses and the many hospital employees who dedicated long hours, warranting the distinction as Healthcare Heroes. I am the proud father of twin daughters who have been inspired by the pandemic. One daughter is now working with me and supporting New Crystal Restoration’s effort to provide Covid-19 cleaning to our community. My other daughter is studying to be a nurse.”

Alumni, friends and family wrote in to tell us about some of Iona’s heroes.

Dr. Margaret A. Pisani, ‘85, MD, MPH
Vice Chief for Faculty Mentoring and Career Development and an Associate Professor at Yale University School of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

“Dr. Pisani works tireless with patients with lung disease, as well as critically ill patients in intensive care units.”
contributed by Iona professor Sunghee Lee, Ph.D.

Dr. Lucy Perazzo ’88, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board, is working at the New York Veterans Hospital in Montrose. 

Ken Jenkins ’95 
Deputy County Executive of Westchester

Ken Jenkins ’95 serves as the deputy county executive for Westchester County under county executive George Latimer P’07. During this pandemic, the two have worked to ensure proper reporting and containment of the virus and protection of all of Westchester’s citizens and workforce.

David O’Neil ’99 
Teacher, Eastchester

Seeing a need for protective face shields, David was making up to 30 a day using the 10 3D printers he has from Discover Camp of Westchester, where he is assistant director.

Cynthia M. DeAngelo ’04, ’11MST
High School Teacher, New York City
“I’m trying to keep some normalcy in the lives of the children I teach whose lives are not normal anymore. I am offering virtual love and hugs and support.”

Diane Lantz ’07MS
Case Manager, Montefiore Medical Center

“My sister is surrounded by illness and is working tirelessly. But she starts each day with the hope that we are closer to seeing the end of this dreaded virus.”
–contributed by Susan C. Keller ’83, Diane’s sister.

Aaron Snyder ’08 was working with FEMA to test and treat people coming off a cruise ship in Florida.

Jessica Walberg ’10
Registered Nurse, Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, Oceanside N.Y.

“Not only is she a frontline hero but she beat the virus herself and is now continuing to give back to her community via donation of plasma.”
–contributed by Kate Tavitian ’13.

Kaitlin Mallon-Tergesen ’11
Physician Assistant 

“Kaitlin contracted COVID-19, and as soon as she recovered, she went back to the hospital because Kaitlin puts others first.”
contributed by Meaghan Mallon ’10, Kaitlin’s sister.

Laura Ruocco ’11 is managing Covid-19 public relations for Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

Kaitlyn Zapletal ’12
Captain, Pleasantville Volunteer Ambulance Corps

“In addition to responding to numerous COVID-19 calls throughout the day and night, we have begun to read children’s books via video posts for our younger residents who may not have a whole lot to do during quarantine.”

Daniel Costa ’13
NYPD – Elmhurst, Queens

“EMS has not seen this number of calls for help in decades and hospitals are jam-packed. Supplies are short and we’re thriving on community donations at the moment.”

Molly Sheehan ’13, ’16MA
Speech Language Pathologist, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.

“I not only assess speech/language and cognition for neurologically impaired patients, but also primarily assess patients swallow function, which will become critical as many of these COVID-19 patients are being intubated for several days, even weeks.”

Michael J. Foti ’14
Internal Medicine Resident

“His days are long and tiring but he truly cares about each patient and I know they are in the best of hands. Our family is extremely proud of Michael and the dedication he shows on a daily basis!”
–contributed by Vincenzo Foti ’12, brother of Michael.

Laura Lubrano ’14
Social Worker, Richmond University Medical Center, Staten Island

“Laura sees many of the families affected by COVID-19 in need of support and guidance from social workers.”
Laura Lubrano ’14 was nominated by Rachel Paquin ’13.

Peter Vitale ’14
PGY-II, Overlook Family Medicine Residency, Summit, N.J.

“Family medicine physicians are on the frontlines of this war with COVID-19 working to keep patients with mild symptoms out of the hospital and isolated at home, providing reassurance, and maintaining the health of all of our other patients.”

Edward J. Browne ’15MBA
Assistant Chief, Stamford EMS

“As first responders, the paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians I work with are caring for COVID-19 patients on a daily basis. These men and women are doing unbelievable work and I am awed by their commitment and professionalism.”

Megan Nicolaro ’16, MS, CCC- SLP

Speech Language Pathologist, Matheny Medical & Educational Center

“Megan is working with some of the most medically complex and vulnerable populations and continues to make sure that her patients are safe from possible COVID-19 exposure.”
–contributed by Lauren Keller ’16, friend of Megan.

Strong Iona leaders are at the forefront of the medical industry, including Rita Mabli ’74, ’76MBA President and CEO of United Hebrew; Kathy Silard ’84MS President and CEO of Stamford Health; Tim Leddy ’82, ’87MBA, President and CEO of Visiting Nurse Services Group (VNS) of Westchester; and Anthony Viceroy ’90 CEO of Westmed Medical Group.

It is also important to recognize all the Iona alumni who have supported The Fund for Iona College. Thanks to their generosity, Iona has been able to respond quickly and prudently to help students and faculty during the crisis, including providing laptops and financial assistance to students in need as well as training and support to faculty.

“I know there are many more untold stories of Gaels giving back in our local and global communities. Now more than ever, we would love to celebrate them,” said President Carey. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with all of those affected by the COVID pandemic, especially the sick and all of the brave men and women who are putting their lives in peril for the sake of others. That is the truest form of heroism.”

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