‘I go home knowing I helped people’: Astoria nurse takes pride in caring for patients during COVID-19 pandemic

Viktoriya Laskina, a registered nurse at Mount Sinai Queens, was presented with a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, which was established to celebrate the extraordinary compassion nurses provide their patients and families everyday.

Viktoriya Laskina of Astoria takes pride in her career working as a registered nurse at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, where she has spent 20 years caring for patients.

“It’s always been my passion and the patients come first,” Laskina said. “There are certain days it is stressful being a nurse, but at the end of the day I go home knowing I helped people. I don’t think I would be satisfied with sitting at a desk shuffling papers.” 

In February, Laskina was recognized by Mount Sinai Queens with a DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, which was established to celebrate the extraordinary compassion nurses provide their patients and families every day. 

Since graduating from Adelphi University in 1999 with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, Laskina said she knew it was her calling to help people — especially at a time when healthcare professionals are battling the coronavirus. 

“We are in the medical profession and it’s our job to help patients get better,” Laskina said. “The country is in a crisis, and as a nurse it’s my obligation to put my heart and soul into my work and do what I can to help them.” 

For 20 years, Laskina has been working in the Medical/Surgical 4 Department, where surgeries have been canceled as nurses and doctors treat coronavirus patients in respiratory distress. 

While treating coronavirus patients, Laskina also became ill in early April and was quarantined in her home for two weeks. Following her recovery, she returned to the hospital to continue working on the frontlines with her colleagues. 

“I was nervous, but yet happy to return because laying in bed makes you feel like you’re not productive with your time,” Laskina said. “Thanks to my family and being able to quarantine, taking antibiotics, other treatments, and having a good immune system, I am one of the lucky ones.” 

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been mentally and physically challenging for Laskina as the hospital became overwhelmed with patients, she said.

“It’s been devastating seeing patients sick, intubated and passing away. We put on our protective equipment, two masks, shield, gown, gloves, and it’s a lot of time and energy disposing of PPP than taking care of patients,” Laskina said. “A lot of our staff gets sick and between everything — my recovery, kids being out of school, and husband working from home — it’s been quite an adjustment,” Laskina added.  

During the spike of coronavirus hospitalizations in March and April, Laskina has been working a few extra hours in the evening to help her colleagues on the floor. 

“It makes me happy that I work with no leftovers for the evening shift to do,” Laskina said. “I try to complete my work to the best of my ability and help all of my coworkers around me.” 

In response to the overwhelming support healthcare professionals are receiving for helping to save lives during the pandemic, Laskina described it as gratifying. 

“I see the support from the local restaurants and delis, pretty much every day they have been giving free lunch to the nursing staff,” Laskina said. “That’s very nice because a lot of restaurants are closed and as busy as you are, you don’t have time to go out and see what is open and what you would eat.” 

Although the job is difficult but yet rewarding, Laskina doesn’t have any regrets of becoming a nurse. 

“Taking care of our patients — whether it’s in-patient or out-patient — it makes me happy to help whether they have pain or are recovering from an orthopedic surgery, or any kind of surgery,” Laskina said. 

And as the city continues to fight the coronavirus, Laskina is reminding everyone to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. 

“Don’t get comfortable too fast because we can have a resurgence of cases. It doesn’t take much to go backwards,” Laskina said. “Eat healthy, exercise, take a deep breath and everything will be okay. We will get through this.”