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A Call To Arms: Retired Health Care Workers Say They're More Than Happy To Pitch In During Vaccination Effort

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The call is out to retired health care workers to help with the massive vaccine effort.

They're leaving the safety of retirement to join in the Herculean effort, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

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On Wednesday, the vaccination line snaked around the lobby of Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, and behind the needles were some whose health care shifts had ended.

Nurse Joanne Newcombe was back to administer vaccinations, two years after retiring.

"To have personal family that died from COVID-19, I felt it was such a great opportunity to give back and to help accomplish herd immunity," Newcombe said.

She is among the more than dozen retirees recruited by South Nassau to fill a dire need.


Hospitals are already spread thin navigating the COVID spike, testing, and now the urgency to vaccinate.

"There is only a limited number of people who can help us, so it is great these volunteers came back and the need is tremendous," Mount Sinai South Nassau Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adhi Sharma said.

It's a call echoing across the nation.

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In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted an urgent request for retired health care professionals with vaccination skills to volunteer with the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps.

It's a big ask, considering the health risks, but they have been vaccinated themselves, and paid.

Ruth Ragusa, a grandmother, is now back on the front lines.

"They always say, 'Once a nurse, always a nurse,'" Ragusa said.

Diane Bendelier was enjoying recent retirement from NYU Langone, but then a call came to serve again and she said didn't think twice.

"It's an overwhelming feeling, but it's also a joyful feeling that, come on, this is it, we are going to be able to fight this horrible, horrible virus," Bendelier said.

The Nassau Suffolk Hospital Council represents more than 20 area hospitals.

"There is a need for staff to get the shots in the arm ... If there's help by way of those retired pharmacists, nurses and doctors, that will help, that will ease some of the burden on hospitals," the council's Janine Logan said.

But heath care workers put it more bluntly, questioning if they'll have enough staff when the vaccination rolls out to the general public. They said they are grateful for the retirees, but wondering if that will be enough.


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