CARIBBEAT: Kacia Wilson’s manning the COVID-19 front line — and hitting the books in law school
Masked and gowned, Kacia Wilson — hospital worker and full-time New York Law School student — is ready for her job at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital.
Saying Kacia Wilson is not just very busy, she’s very committed — supplying needed medical munitions to her frontline hospital colleagues COVID-19 war on hectic weekends, while, amazingly, completing her first-year as a full-time law school student at New York Law School in Manhattan.
Busy, yes, but her Caribbean roots are not forgotten. She is also vice president of Caribbean and West Indian Law Students Association and a member of the Black Law Students Association.
This deep professional and academic commitment — which runs in her family — has been recognized and reported by the New York Law School News publication and on the website of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, her undergraduate alma mater.
Wilson from John Jay College and City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College in 2019 and started law school last August.
Last week, I mentioned to Wilson I may have more questions to complete our interview, and she responded, “Friday evening please because I’m taking a final during the day.”
“I want to be a criminal lawyer — still unsure about whether prosecution or defense,” said Wilson, adding that she is scheduled extern with the defense-focused New York County Defenders Services in the fall."
For Wilson, a week of classes and studying, and a law school final exam on Friday is normally followed by full long Saturdays and Sundays shifts at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital.
In her position as a support service associate, she provides supplies for doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients and others; restocks the original emergency rooms and the second ER set up after COVID-19 struck; transports newly admitted patients to their rooms and takes patients to-and-from in-hospital exams; cleans beds; refills linen carts — and even takes bodies to the mortuary.
“I bring bodies downstairs to the morgue. I have not brought bodies to the COVID morgue which is located outside of the hospital,” said Wilson, get strength from her family and a scholastic motto, she told the NYLS News.
“People have asked me why I don’t decline shifts or quit,” Wilson said. “I was born and raised in New York. This is my home and my heart. How could I not help in this time of need?,” she told the law school publication, adding that she faithfully abides by her high school’s oath.
The promise — taken every student entering studies at Townsend Harris High School in Queens — ends this way: “I shall not leave my city any less but rather greater than I found it.”
Wilson has family members who fully understand her healthcare- academic pressures. She told the NYLS News that her “truly amazing” mother — who immigrated from Jamaica in the 1990s and postponed her educational advancement to care for her three daughters and a cousin — is presently a graduate student studying social work. And her sister is in nurse practitioner school, Wilson told John Jay College News.
But along with the all this dedication comes stress, Wilson told John Jay News, recalling her mother once “broke down” and abruptly ended their phone conversation when a 23-year-old coronavirus patient died in her hospital ward. "It’s difficult she said, adding, “If you have a frontline worker in your life, please check in on how they’re doing emotionally.”
Between work and full-time law school, there’s very little down-time for Wilson, who hits the book whenever she can, Zoom-studies with friends and stays up “all night,” at times, to complete assignments. “I will say that completing assignments have been difficult and studying for finals hasn’t been easy either.”
“My law school is being as understanding as possible. They have also been very supportive. My deans email me to check up on me, some professors also do so,” she said.
Personally, Wilson admits her “stress levels are through the roof,” concerned that “my scholarship could be in jeopardy because of me working so hard at my job,” she admitted to John Jay News. “But I’m going to keep moving forward as best as I can at work and school. Just juggling working in the emergency room and being a first year law student!”
‘Support Harlem Now!'
Responding the pervasive negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic uptown, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and its members are pitching in to help through its “Support Harlem Now! Harlem Community Relief Fund.”
Feeding the hungry and hiring people left jobless by the pandemic, the GHCC initiative is also helping individuals and Harlem businesses.
Donations from a GoFundfMe Charity page are helping aiding the “Support Harlem Now!” campaign.
“We begin now by providing daily food feeds to hundreds of needy families and homeless from Tuesdays through Saturdays,” reads the GHCC’s GoFundfMe Charity page. "We very much need your help now to continue to do so and to allow for us to increase the number of meals that we can provide.
The chamber, ReThink Food NYC, Salem United Methodist Church, and state Assembly member Inez Dickens has launched the weekly meal service program.
The GHCC and its supporters are working to help initiatives for Harlem Hospital and senior citizens programs; providing tablets and computers for school children unable to participate in virtual classes; getting tablets for hospital patients isolated from family and loved ones; and getting donations of clothing for the homeless.
For GHCC members and the business community, efforts include coordinating of support services for small businesses and not-for-profit services hurt by the health crisis,
There is also a weekly series of radio programs sharing pandemic-related information from the chamber and “a network of health, education, business, technology, religious, cultural, and civic leaders.”
To donate to the Support Harlem Now! fund, get to the GoFunfMe Charity page by searching the web for
Keeping the topic in the news, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams was interviewed last week on WNYC public radio about "racial disparities in social distancing enforcement and the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic."
Williams — who early in the crisis called for the virus’ disproportionate affect on people of color be addressed — was a guest on WNYC’s “All Of It” show hosted by Alison Stewart. To hear this and other “All of It” shows, visit wnyc.org/shows/all-of-it
‘Concert for Hope’
It’s musically what’s needed, presented just how we need it — the Caribbean Voice publication’s free virtual “This Concert for Hope," regionally-representative Facebook Live event "aimed at lifting up the spirits of those locked down at home, in quarantine or struggling with the coronavirus restrictions, taking place Saturday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
There will be reggae, reggae fusion, soca, chutney, chutney soca and R&B music, in addition to “singing, dancing, drumming, comedy and spoken word” performances.
Scheduled entertainers and celebrities include Bunty Singh, Guyana’s current chutney monarch; Jamaican reggae artist, Garfield “GMac” Maclean; Trinidad and Tobago singer Anthony Batson; Jamerican reggae fusion performer Lushy Banton; Anguilla’s Omari Banks, the West Indies cricketer turned music star and motivator; the Florida-based chutney singers Satish Udairam and Natty Ramotar; New York City-based, Barbados-born comedian Robert “Sinck” Sinckler; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines-born singer, songwriter and model Chanique Rogers.
Imran Ahmad of the “West Indian Today” radio and TV program; journalist Aubrey Campbell; Canadadian broadcaster Narine Sookram; and Ryhthm Nation Entertainment host and CEO Dimple Willabus are the scheduled hosts for the concert.