Stepping Up

Many of us are keeping ourselves, our families and our communities safe during the coronavirus pandemic by staying at home. Jordan (Nickelatti) Kaaze ’13 is keeping people safe by heading to one of the hardest-hit U.S. cities — New York.

On April 11, 2020, Kaaze, a registered nurse and proud Alverno alumna, said farewell to her husband in Minnesota and boarded a plane. Two days later, she reported for orientation at a Manhattan hospital. She has signed a contract to work five 12-hour shifts for the next eight weeks, caring for coronavirus patients.

Alverno Magazine connected with Kaaze several days before her departure. We asked: Why did Kaaze leave her home (and a job she loved at a trauma intensive care unit) to travel to the front lines of the crisis?

“It’s who I was raised to be,” she says. “I was raised in a small community, where people around me have always stepped up to help people who needed it.”

Kaaze was particularly struck by New York health care providers’ plea for protective equipment and for backup. She realized her ICU in Minnesota’s Twin Cities was fully staffed, resource-rich and hadn’t been hit as hard by the virus as New York. New York, she decided, needed her more.

“One morning, I was drinking my coffee with my husband,” she recalls. “I asked him: ‘What would you say if I told you I wanted to go to New York on a nursing contract?’ He immediately said, ‘Do it. I know why you want to go, and I support you.’”

As a trauma ICU nurse for the past five years, Kaaze has the skillset and experience to confront her new assignment.

“I like the fast pace,” she says. “Nothing is routine. It’s always something different and challenging.”

Kaaze was quickly on the phone with a recruiter. She submitted her application and got a job offer the same day. She’s now in New York, with two of her friends and nursing colleagues. And she’s ready to make a difference.

“I’m really just excited to be a part of such a historical time,” she says. “What I’m most nervous about is just the unknown. I have no idea what I’m stepping into, but all I know is I’m going full speed ahead and I’m ready.”

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