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Notre Dame Alumnus Julia Iafrate (Class of 2002) at the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in hard-hit New York City
After more than a decade in the States. Dr. Julia Iafrate’s Green Card was denied even as she treats COVID-19 patients in the Big Apple
May 08, 2020 by Grant LaFlecheThe St. Catharines Standard
The impact of 12 hours in a New York City emergency room treating COVID-19 patients are etched into Dr. Julia Iafrate's face.
The whites of her eyes are laced with red, her mascara smudged. Deep, dark grooves run over her cheeks and the bridge of her nose — the mark of the mask that keeps the novel coronavirus at bay.
The hours are long at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Twelve hours a shift in the heart of America's COVID-19 epicentre. There is, Iafrate said, a silence that surrounds the dying that is unnerving.
"Many times patients are intubated as soon as they arrive," said the St. Catharines-born doctor. "These are patients who are often on ventilators and cannot communicate with you. It is very quiet and, honestly, that can be unsettling."
Iafrate has seen many patients die. By Thursday, the death toll in New York City had risen to nearly 19,000. And she has seen many of her colleagues suffering post-traumatic stress brought on by the unending pressure.
But fighting the virus isn't the only battle Iafrate faces. While she toils in the ER, Iafrate's lawyer is fighting to keep her in her adopted country. Last week, the United States government rejected Iafrate's Green Card application on grounds she does not provide a service in the national interest.
"It was pretty shocking. I was blindsided," said Iafrate, who has lived and worked in the U.S. for 13 years with an education that includes a residency at the Mayo Clinic.
Just prior to the start of the March Break, Graeme Staples was able to do something he had been dreaming about for a long time.
It was a major moment when the Grade 12 student at Notre Dame officially signed to be a scholarship swimmer with the Niagara University Purple Eagles in Lewiston, N.Y.
“It was pretty cool to sign in the States,” the 18-year-old said. “I think I dreamed of it when I was a kid, going somewhere in the States and having a signing day. I was really excited about it.”
The Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association 200-metre freestyle champion realized he had a chance to be a scholarship swimmer when looking at his times.
“I was thinking it was a real good possibility and once I got on campus it was really good fit and a really nice team. It was ‘Let’s do it.’ ”
Staples also had interest from Canisius, but Niagara won out for a number of reasons.
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