Stories from the Southcoast Frontlines: Toni Borges
A full year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Southcoast Health’s response has required extensive teamwork and selflessness from every member of the organization – especially those on the frontlines.
During the past year, Antoinette Borges – or Toni, as she likes to be called – a Southcoast Frontlines Hero, has gone above and beyond in her role. She is a Case Manager on Century 4, the respiratory floor, and one of the COVID units at St. Luke’s Hospital. As healthcare workers stepped into the unknown, Toni consistently has done all she could to help.
As a Case Manager, Toni’s role focuses on creating safe discharge plans for patients when they are well enough to leave the hospital. This includes setting patients up with oxygen, a visiting nurse, or even placing them in a rehabilitation center for continued care. With the arrival of the novel coronavirus, extra precautions were necessary for these patients.
No longer allowed in patient rooms, Toni had to switch gears. Now she has to make all of these plans over the phone with patients and their families. When she first became a nurse, Toni worked in a Chronic Care Respiratory Hospital, and this specialty continues to hold a special place in her heart.
Working on a COVID unit, “It was very sad to see these nurses in the rooms with critically ill patients,” Toni says. “It was very hard for me to not be able to be right there with them.”
Stepping up to Support the Those on the Frontlines
Looking for additional ways to help, Toni stepped up to support the patient-facing team on her floor. Therefore, she designated herself as a “runner.” She would gather supplies, extra linen, coffee, and food for the nurses and hospitalists. At this time, the medical staff was doing everything in the rooms with the patients, including changing the beds and taking out the trash.
“Although I no longer do bedside nursing, you have to be a team,” Toni says.
Outside of work, Toni continued to find ways to help. Starting with her family, she was able to get a donation of N95 masks from her son, who works as a boiler tech. While his work was put on pause, he was able to get a donation of supplies. Toni would then bring supplies in for the Southcoast frontline workers. She was also able to get a shipment of N95 masks from her brother. He graciously donated to St. Luke’s Hospital through his work. Toni’s sister stepped up to help, as well. Together she and Toni made over 300 surgical caps and masks for the staff at St. Luke’s.
Caring for Patients Is More Than a Job to Toni
Describing herself as a “big go-getter,” Toni normally works multiple jobs. Her first as a case manager and then also as a per diem nurse for a pediatric patient. She loves what she does. Her work allows her to help others every day. Reflecting on the last year, Toni shares the advice to make the most of life, as no one knows what tomorrow will bring.
Lastly, through her experience on the respiratory floor, Toni has seen firsthand how dangerous COVID-19 can be. She wants to remind others that it is important to do what they can, such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated, to slow the spread and stay healthy. She is thankful for all of the healthcare workers who have tirelessly worked on the frontlines, and Toni is honored to work with such an amazing team at St. Luke’s. “Everyone is always willing to help, and it truly is a family,” she says.
Thank you, Toni!