Honoring our Frontline Heroes: In March when most businesses and governments closed and our nation went into quarantine, those on the front lines in their roles as healthcare workers, educators, retail staff, first responders, and other essential service providers were thrust into hero status overnight. As men who uphold the values of Truth, Honor, and Personal Integrity, it is no surprise that multitudes of Chi Phi Brothers of all generations are among these Frontline Heroes. Our mission now is to thrust as many of these Brothers as possible into the spotlight, so that we can properly recognize them for the work they do.
Dr. Steve Rossman, Chi Phi, Pi Zeta 2004
As news of the novel coronavirus began to spread, Brother Rossman thought to himself “Is this real? This is probably just the flu…right?” It didn’t take long for him to realize that it was, in fact, not an influenza outbreak, but rather a global pandemic that marked New Jersey as a hot zone. With Hackensack University Medical Center treating an astronomical number of positive virus cases, the entire hospital was quickly converted into a COVID-19 facility.
For Dr. Rossman, he went from running a successful orthopedic practice to, essentially, being shut down. Since elective surgeries were cancelled at the height of the pandemic, he was only allowed to see patients that were in dire need. He and his colleagues wanted to help in the frontline effort and since they “couldn’t help with brains” they decided to “help with biceps.” He and a few other orthopedic surgeons joined the Prone Team where they helped to turn intubated patients from their stomach to their back in an attempt to prevent stiffness and bedsores.
However, Brother Rossman is not the only member of his family being exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis; his wife is also a physician. With two small children at home, managing work schedules and trying to ensure their family stayed healthy and safe became what felt like an insurmountable challenge. Yet, what Brother Rossman remembers the most from these past several months is the gratitude that complete strangers have shown him. As he stood in the middle of an empty grocery store aisle, still wearing his scrubs, shoppers began to approach him and simply say “thank you” – acts of kindness that will not be forgotten.
Elective surgeries have begun again in New Jersey, and Brother Rossman is happy to engage in a bit of normalcy – even if strict procedures are still in place.
With all the sickness and death he has witnessed since March, his words of advice to others is quite simple: “It’s not uncool to wear a mask; it will save your life and others.”