Heroes of Atlantic Cape

Celebrating the Heroes Among Us

We’d like to share a heartfelt thank you to the Atlantic Cape Heroes who are working on the frontlines during these unprecedented times. This pandemic has forced many of us to take on new and different responsibilities and risks, and Atlantic Cape is so proud to recognize the great achievements of our own alumni, students, and staff as they stepped up to the challenge.

Thank you to the nurses, first responders, and other healthcare workers risking their lives to keep us safe and healthy. Thank you to the teachers continuing to inspire and educate. Thank you to all of the members of the Atlantic Cape family who are helping America – and the entire world – face these new and daunting challenges. We’re grateful that the future is in your hands and we're so proud to say that you are a part of our Atlantic Cape family. 

Registered Nurse

Djaniella Dimayuga '17

Djaniella Dimayuga '18Djaniella Dimayuga, an Atlantic Cape nursing program alumna, is proud to be on the frontline fighting the battle against COVID-19. She works at the Neonatal ICU at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing, Atlantic Cape Class of 2017

 "There's a lot of uncertainty right now, but we're all in this together, so it's important that we support each other in every way that we can, and do our part in this pandemic."

I work at the epicenter of this whole outbreak in New York City, and it's an experience unlike any I’ve encountered in the past. I work in the Neonatal ICU at Bellevue Hospital, and we have COVID-19 positive patients and COVID-19 positive nurses. We are, as you probably already know, being asked to reuse our N95 mask for the day and in-between patients. We were, at some point, also asked to reuse our gowns for the entire shift (save to the side until we re-enter COVID+ rooms). We are losing nurses left and right (due to being sick), and the same staff is being asked to come in for overtime help. Because of this, the exhaustion is REAL. Today, we just lost a nurse on our unit from COVID-19, and after a brief moment to ourselves, we continued to work. Every day is just a mixture of emotions - sadness, exhaustion, anger, fear, stress, anxiety, etc. Everything. Bellevue is the oldest public hospital, and its clientele is broad and open to all walks of life. We treat anyone who walks through our doors regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, so naturally, we see A LOT here. It's humbling. There's a makeshift morgue in our backyard, and it's filling up pretty quickly. New York City feels very eerie at times. The streets are empty. All the businesses are closed. People are scared, confused, and bored. I wish those who are able to read this, know how fortunate and lucky they are to be alive and safe. I know there's a light somewhere at the end of all this, and there are times when I can sense a feeling of "togetherness" around me. It gives me a little spark of hope. There's a lot of uncertainty right now, but we're all in this together, so it's important that we support each other in every way we can, and do our part in this pandemic.

I am currently enrolled in a BSN program at Rutgers -- should complete by next year! Other than my degree from Atlantic Cape, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology from Rutgers University in 2014

 
Clinical Research Manager

Felix Contreras-Castro '14

felix-contrarasFelix Contreras-Castro is working as a Clinical Research Manager at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Felix is an Adjunct Professor at Atlantic Cape where he triple majored and is a Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient. 

Associate in Science in Biology, Associate in Science in Human Services, and Associate in Arts in Sociology, Atlantic Cape Class of 2014.

"My department is currently testing medications to determine their effectiveness on COVID-19 patients....My duties are to collect the data, blood serum samples, analyze patient's electronic medical records and discuss the findings with the physicians and scientists leading the studies."

"My department is currently testing medications to determine their effectiveness on COVID-19 patients. We suspect medications used to treat SARS can be effective. We have also noticed that men are dying at significantly higher rates than females so we are also testing the idea that --estrogen-- might provide an extra layer of protection. My duties are to collect the data, blood serum samples, analyze patient's electronic medical records and discuss the findings with the physician-scientists leading the studies.

Teacher

Jessica Dorta '16

Jessica Dorta '16A dedicated middle school teacher at Port Norris Elementary who is working hard to provide a quality remote learning experience for her students during the pandemic. 

Associate in Arts, Elementary and Middle School Education, Atlantic Cape Class of 2016

"I am working to be the best online teacher I can be by using tools like Zoom meetings to maintain a connection with my students so I can encourage and support their learning." 

Here is her #NJCCHeroes Story:

I am currently working with other teachers to teach our middle school students in distance learning through many online platforms.   We are hosting Zoom meetings to have face-to-face time with our students that is as closely aligned to their normal classroom experience.  We have all of our assignments posted on Google Classroom and we offer many ways for students to contact us throughout the social day hours, such as Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Hangouts, and by phone through Google Voice.  Today, the students were "off from school" while the teachers had a professional development day.

I spent the day watching webinars to help me be the best online teacher that I can be.   I also started my journey to becoming a Google Certified Educator!  While I miss seeing my students in our classroom every day, I am glad that there are so many online programs that I can incorporate into my distance learning classroom.  I think it is so beneficial for my students to be able to check in with me and still see their classmates online through our classroom Zoom meetings.   It is also important for teachers to implement tools like this to help maintain our connection with our students so we can still encourage and support their learning.   It is also important for teachers to implement tools like this to help maintain our connection with our students so we can still encourage and support their learning.   I earned my bachelor's degree at Stockton University, and I just graduated in December 2019!  I am so lucky to have quickly gained employment at an amazing school.

 
ICU Nurse

DiChera Helm '13

Dichera Helm '13 DiChera Helm has been a cardiac nurse in the ICU for Inspira Health for almost two years. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015 from Rutgers University. She also completed certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and is board certified as a medical-surgical nurse through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. All of the ICUs in the hospital where she works were converted to COVID units.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing, Atlantic Cape Class of 2013

"I am proud to be a critical care nurse and I will continue to fight for my patients when they cannot fight anymore."

"Since COVID has happened I have experienced so many different emotions.   I remember first hearing about the coronavirus in January when I was in a patient's room.   Never did I imagine that we would be where we are today.   I have been experiencing what they are calling 'pre-traumatic stress disorder' for healthcare workers.   I am usually a very calm and positive person who never has had a panic attack in her life and I experienced one for the first time while home laying in bed.   I have experienced a great deal of anxiety leading up to my work days.   When I am at work the stress level is at an all-time high.   Our unit has been trying to stay positive with music and comfort food we all have been contributing to bringing in.   It has been very hard to watch these patients crash out of nowhere.   We have been having almost 3-4 rapid response calls a day for the COVID positive med-surg patients.   It has been very isolating for the nurses as well as the patients to be in these isolation rooms.   It is ungodly hot and uncomfortable with all of the PPE we are wearing.   At times we are in these rooms for 4 hours straight with no relief.   We use baby monitors and whiteboards/windows while in the patient rooms to communicate with each other.   This conserves PPE and limits exposure.   At times it is hard to make that personal connection with the patients who are so heavily sedated or paralyzed because they are intubated and proned.   I miss the interactions I would have with the patient's visitors and comforting them when their loved ones lay so critical in a bed.   Now I can only comfort them over the phone and assure them that I will be there for their loved one to hold their hand or watch them take their last breath.   I have the fear of taking this home to my small children.   The first thing they want to do when I come home is hug me and I can no longer do that.   I work in fear constantly that I will contract the virus as it is so prevalent in our patient population and even coworkers now.   It is something I have never experienced before and will definitely always be affected by and remember.   I never realized how important nurses are and I have been one since 2013.   The outpouring of love and appreciation we are receiving has been very motivating.  Many units within our own organization have sent care packages and written messages to life each other up.  It has definitely unified us and shown the world what is really important in life.   I have to thank Atlantic Cape.   I always commend my instructors and the program.   They prepared my class so well and helped me with the foundations and basic knowledge to build on and become the nurse I am today.   I am proud to be a critical care nurse and I will continue to fight for my patients when they cannot fight anymore."

 
Registered Nurse

Katherine Melo '18

Katherine Melo '18Katherine Melo works as a Registered Nurse at the AtlantiCare Hospital in Atlantic City. In addition to her nursing degree from Atlantic Cape, she also received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University in May 2020.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing, Atlantic Cape Class of 2018

"I can only express how grateful I am to be in the frontlines serving and treating our community. In the midst of supply shortages around the world and in our nation, we have witnessed the kindness of our humanity, as business who are closed have donated packaged surgical masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals."

When being informed by our hospital leaders that our unit would become the designated COVID-19 “rule out” floor, I was frightened of the unknown. Fast forward to two weeks later, and now I can only express how grateful I am to be in the frontlines serving and treating our community, receiving amazing daily support from our hospital leaders, assuring us that our safety and the provision of personal protective equipment will always be one of their biggest priorities. In the midst of supply shortages around the world and in our nation, we’ve witnessed the kindness of our humanity as businesses who are closed have donated packaged surgical masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals. More than ever, we promote a culture of support and family on our unit, assuring one another that together we are stronger, and this too shall pass one day. What is meant to divide will only bring humanity closer and stronger.
 
ICU Nurse

Angelina Hawk

Angelina Hawk '17Atlantic Cape alumna Angelina Hawk who is a Cape Regional Medical Center ICU Registered Nurse and also works as a respiratory triage nurse at another local hospital and a critical care transport nurse for two agencies.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing, Atlantic Cape Class of 2017

"I have seen COVID-19 from a few different viewpoints. Caring for patients from the critical care standpoint is difficult but I feel honored to do it and to be there for them."

"In addition to being an ICU nurse at Cape Regional, I'm also a respiratory triage nurse at another local hospital which was a position that was created specifically for the COVID-19 pandemic, and a critical care transport nurse for two agencies, so I've seen COVID-19 from a few different viewpoints.   Caring for the patients from the critical care standpoint is difficult but I feel honored to do it and be there for them.   It's hard for them to not be able to have their families there, so it's another way of being able to incorporate the family as a whole into the patient's care, too.   As far as how I'm coping, I just take everything day by day.   I have four younger siblings, three of which are under the age of 13 and a stepdaughter who's 6 so I've distanced myself from them considering my exposure to so many positive patients.   My husband is also an EMT, which makes it even more difficult considering he has distanced himself from his daughter.   It's hard, but we text, call, or video chat a lot.

Since Atlantic Cape, I received my BSN from Chamberlain University, and my CCRN and CMC certifications and will hopefully start school in the fall with Drexel for my MSN with a focus on Acute Care NP!"

Registered Nurse

Rebecca Portnoy '17

Rebecca Portnoy '17Currently working on the frontlines at the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital.

Associate in Applied Science, Nursing, Atlantic Cape Class of 2017

"Since graduating Atlantic Cape, I earned my BSN at Capella University last March. I work at San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital, serving a very vulnerable population. Due to COVID-19, my hospital has implemented a screening process where nurses rotate screening all staff, patients, and other personnel for possible symptoms to assure safety within the facility and community. Thank you for your support!"

 
Thank you to our Alumni, Faculty & Staff for working on the COVID-19 frontlines!