Pediatrician redeployed to ICU to fight coronavirus over Pesach thanks 'amazing' Jewish community

Amy Solomon, who moved to the UK from Johannesburg in May, said the community's help was 'amazing'


Amy Solomon arrived in the UK last May to work in special needs school, naturally not expecting that, within a year, she would be working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and having emergency seder plates and challahs delivered to her hotel door. 

The 31-year-old, who came from works as a paediatric physiotherapist in Brent, was redeployed from a secondment to a special needs school in Kingsbury to Northwick Park Hospital’s ICU.

“I got the call two weeks ago,” she says.

“When schools closed, I went back to our admin office space and we were doing telephone consultations. They asked if we would do face-to-face redeployment. I said I would do it.”

Ms Solomon, who had experience working in ICUs in South Africa, was assigned to the seven-person "proning" team. 

“We help turn the patients from their backs to their fronts while they are on a ventilator,” Ms Solomon adds, “this helps improve oxygenation and reduce inflammation. It is supposed to have really good results and wean them off the ventilator.”

"It was a shock... It was tough getting used to the ICU environment again and seeing really sick patients. These patients that we were dealing with are really critically ill, and you are doing everything in your protective gear."

Ms Solomon was worried that she might miss her Pesach Seder. 

“I moved into a hotel and thought I would be on duty that day,” she says, “but I managed to have a Seder that night.” 

Ms Solomon had posted on a Facebook group about a local organisation that was sending out kits to those in isolation, or unable to source everything needed for Seder.

However, when she found out that the organisation had run out, somebody offered to have his rabbi provide her with everything that she needed. 

Rabbi Yisroel Weitz of the Village Shul in Hampstead delivered a Seder box. “It was amazing with what it came with, it came with all the little seder plate things, plus a Haggadah, plus a wine cup. It was amazing.”

“I was really blown away by that,” she says, “on Wednesday night I laid everything out and I had a Zoom Seder session with my family all around the world.” 

“I haven’t really been part of the Jewish community since I moved here,” Ms Solomon, “I was very grateful about how the Jewish community came through.” 

She started her first shift at Northwick Park the following day and has worked six shifts. “It was definitely a Pesach to remember.”

“The Jewish community in South Africa is very close-knit, and I guess I didn’t know that it was also the case here,” she says, “I’ve simply been blown away by people here wanting to help, and people who don’t even know me.” 

Since Passover, Ms Solomon has been added to a Jewish Whatsapp group of Jewish hospital workers and Jewish midwives have watched out for her, delivering challah and collected laundry from her hotel for her. 

“To know that there are people who want to help you is really incredible... It is really very special.”

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