Courageous frontline worker quits her staff job to become a travel nurse in COVID hotspots
Courtesy of CeraVe
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Meet Alexandra Flamm, a self-described adrenaline junkie who grew up knowing she wanted to work in the medical field to help save lives.

After receiving her degree in nursing, Flamm landed a job working in a Trauma Intensive Care Unit in the Bronx. Her hospital was located in one of the hardest hit areas when COVID-19 struck in March of 2020. Watching patients suffer from a mysterious virus no one had seen before shook Flamm; it upset her to know there were limits to what she could do to help.


Alexandra | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

"I have never treated an illness I knew so little about. None of us had. So I couldn't tell patients that we would get them through this. I could only assure them that they would never be alone and we would be there through it all."

However, she didn't let fear stop her—instead, Nurse Flamm found creative ways to offer hope to patients' families during a very dark time. Because she was caring for COVID patients who were sedated and on a ventilator, she encouraged family members standing on the other side of the glass to call her cell phone, which she put inside of a plastic bag and placed next to the patient's ear.

"I always encourage family to talk to their loved ones. I would stand next to them looking at her through the glass door and try to be as honest as possible when they would ask me questions," she said. And if the patient took a turn for the worse, Flamm was there to hold their hand.

"Holding a patient's hand as they are dying because their loved ones couldn't be there was heart-wrenching and comforting at the same time...it felt like a privilege," she said.

Working in a hospital located in a COVID hotspot meant that Flamm and her co-workers were drowning in a sea of patients who needed ventilators and ICU care. It was virtually impossible to keep up. When travel nurses and other healthcare workers began showing up from elsewhere to help, it made a tremendous impact.

Courtesy of CeraVe

"I truly felt rescued by them, mentally and physically. They had such courage to jump right into a brand new place with no orientation and at the scariest time to be a healthcare worker...I wanted to be able to do that for someone else," Flamm said. "I wanted to go to a hotspot where the healthcare workers felt like they were drowning just like I had, and be able to help them feel rescued. And I wanted to use the knowledge and experience I had gained fighting COVID to help patients elsewhere."

So that's exactly what Flamm did. Once things started to calm down in New York, she quit her job at the hospital to become a travel nurse, flying to COVID hotspots all across the country. "I just wanted to go anywhere where [the spread of] COVID was [increasing]," she said. "It felt like a calling."

As a dermatologist-developed brand rooted in the medical community, CeraVe® is committed to supporting and celebrating healthcare professionals like Nurse Flamm. To give back to the workforce that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

As part of its commitment to nurses, CeraVe® is also a proud sponsor of the ANA Enterprise and their Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ initiative, a movement designed to transform the health of the nation by improving the health of the nation's 4.2 million registered nurses. Through the initiative, ANA is connecting and engaging with nurses to inspire them to take action in five key areas: activity, sleep, nutrition, quality of life and safety.

Additionally, over the past year, CeraVe® has donated more than 500,000 products to hospitals to help provide therapeutic skincare relief to healthcare workers and is continuing the product donation efforts. Nurses looking to engage with the brand and learn more about these initiatives can join the Shift Change: Nurse Essentials Facebook group, an online community hosted by CeraVe® where nurses come together for personal and professional empowerment.

To see more stories about nurse heroes, visit https://www.heroesbehindthemasks.com/.

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From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.

Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.

Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

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