Jeremy Korytoski ’06: WMA initiated  ‘a level of perseverance and determination even while under tremendous stress’

 

Jeremy Korytoski ’06 was cautious and uncomfortable, but prepared.

For this Academy World story, he was asked questions about being a front-line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. What was the experience like? How did it affect you?

 

By Bill Wells

Director of Student Promotion

Jeremy Korytoski ’06 was cautious and uncomfortable, but prepared.

For this Academy World story, he was asked questions about being a front-line worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. What was the experience like? How did it affect you?

Was; did — words in the past tense.

A registered nurse since 2011, Mr. Korytoski knew better.

He concluded his interview in late July on the side of prophetic: “COVID is still here. We have seen the communities rally together, and though we have been lucky in Massachusetts, we are far from done with this pandemic.”

Within hours of his interview, there was a coronavirus outbreak at a nearby medical facility, with more than 40 employees and patients testing positive from one single host.

Mr. Korytoski was right — we are far from done with this pandemic.

Mr. Korytoski’s professional life is routinely hectic. A valued member of the Emergency Room at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, history showed anything could come through the emergency room doors at any moment.

The coronavirus came through those doors in late March.

“Nursing is not a profession for the faint of heart,” he said. “It poses challenges on a daily basis with a variety of outcomes. Some days you assist the doctor to reset a fractured bone, other days you’re holding a hand while someone takes their last breath. You just never know.

“The ER can be a stressful place at baseline. However, with COVID, the stress has tripled. The way you approach patients and the sheer reality you could develop symptoms at any time certainly contributes to the stress. COVID’s wide array of symptoms and asymptomatic tendencies are going to keep ER’s around the nation on guard throughout much of the winter months.”

Saying the nursing profession chose him, the Northampton, Massachusetts, native uses a mindset he developed at Wilbraham & Monson Academy as a way to handle the many physical and emotional obstacles of his current work environment.

“A level of perseverance and determination even while under tremendous stress has been a trait I’ve been working on for a long time, but one that was initiated at WMA,” he said. “The desire to strive for answers, face challenges head-on and persevere has helped me face the unknown of COVID with confidence.

“This virus shows no discrimination to your creed, gender, sexual orientation or political views. One thing is for sure, though, the only way to succeed is together.”

That determination and drive have helped the former three-time WMA Skiing MVP  focus on his work, shift by shift, minute by minute, especially since the coronavirus entered his workplace.

“I have been a nurse for nine years. I have seen and treated many illnesses,” he revealed.

“After seeing my first COVID-19 patient and the palpable fear within the patient’s eyes, it became clear that skills would have to be sharp and emotions would have to be checked at the door.”

One area that has remained constant throughout the craziness and uncertainty of COVID-19 is the safety of his family. The married, father of two said, “The most challenging and important change to my job has been making sure my family remains healthy and protected.”