Get to know Sonya Choudhury, a long-term care nurse practitioner at our Manhattan campus, as she reflects on The New Jewish Home’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how building meaningful relationships with residents leads to better clinical outcomes.

Text transcript of the interview with Sonya Choudhury

At The New Jewish Home, I am a long-term care nurse practitioner and I have been at The New Jewish Home for six years. I have always wanted to be an NP. I was motivated by my father and my brother. Medicine is in our family. I always knew I wanted to work with the aging and elder population and volunteered with it in college and I found that I really was very good at forming relationships, which is very important to me and I knew I would have that opportunity in this line of work to be able to form meaningful relationships with the elder population I worked with, which will, of course, in turn, improve clinical outcomes. I communicate with families every single day, it’s one of the greatest joys of my position. I love to get to know the families, I consider having a relationship with them one of the most important things.

During COVID I definitely communicate a little bit more than normal. I always call families if there is any change in condition, any new medication, or addressing any concerns that they might have. Keeping residents engaged and happy during the pandemic is definitely a challenge, but it’s also superiorly important. Our therapeutic recreation team has gone above and beyond to have socially distanced programming, I think, from a medical staff point of view, I’ve realized the importance of really really being able to attain all — to my residents — all their needs. Their medical, their psychosocial, as well as their emotional. I think some of the key takeaways from the height of the pandemic, the first thing I would say is the difference that a full-time medical staff makes in the quality of care and the outcomes.

Something that we are very blessed to have at The New Jewish Home, which is a full-time medical staff, around the clock, seven days a week. The second thing I would say is the importance of good communication with families, and, third, I would say the importance of really showing up, being confident, even when you’re scared, and being able to rely on your colleagues. Older adults thrive from having a stable presence of the medical staff in their life and being able to form long-lasting relationships.

At The New Jewish Home, we call that “Deep Knowing,” which means, knowing more than someone on’s medical, but knowing what their personal preferences are, what time they like to wake up in the morning, a certain snack that they like before bedtime, and when you really really know somebody deeply, you form a meaningful relationship, and the clinical outcomes are always much better because you are able to see if someone is having more pain than normal on one day, because they might sleep in a little bit, or they might be grimacing. So, I think that’s one of the most significant things. Here at The New Jewish Home, Yes, I have the honor and privilege of being able to work with the Sinai Fellows, which is absolutely amazing, and to be able to learn from them. I also am on the NYU faculty and each semester I train and I’m responsible for the clinical experience of an NYU nurse practitioner student. I absolutely love to be a resource to them, to be a teacher, to be responsible for the dissemination of knowledge but I also really really love, within a group here, and all my colleagues, the educational opportunities that are open to us, which include journal clubs, professional development, and learning from each other.