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05.22.2020Inside Verizon

Speaking for a sister who can’t.

By: Dave Boerger
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When a Brooklyn nurse contracts COVID-19 and ends up in a coma, her sister and V Teamer Shirley Licin jumps in to help.

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For Shirley Licin, Manager of Organizational Effectiveness in Basking Ridge, NJ, the pandemic has hit too close to home.

In Mid-March, her sister, Sylvia LeRoy, a nurse at Brookdale hospital in Brooklyn, contracted COVID-19 while six months pregnant and was put on a ventilator. Just after coming off the ventilator, she suffered cardiac arrest. Her daughter Esther was born at just 30 weeks, and remains in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

“We were just getting so close to the end and celebrating and it felt like life had pulled the rug right out from under us.”

In order to give Sylvia the best possible shot at recovery, Shirley has taken over the management of her care. Her days are filled responding to calls from her sister’s caretakers, family and friends, talking with social workers for advice on insurance issues and researching potential next steps in Sylvia’s recovery.

In addition, Shirley has her own family to manage. “I have three children of my own that I try to manage as best as I can because they are also still in school. That hasn’t stopped.”

One bright spot for Shirley has been the support she’s received from Verizon’s Care Giver Leave program, which has been updated for COVID-19-related cases. “Verizon made it so easy for me to focus on my family during my hour of need,” said Shirley. “I didn’t have to worry about income or the work that I normally do with my team. What mattered most was stabilizing and caring for my family and advocating for my sister. There are no words that can express how I feel and my level of gratitude. I’m really being proud of the company that I work for.”

Shirley’s V Team colleagues have also been a big help. “Throughout all of this, my team was praying for me and reaching out to me. They sent dinners to my home which was so helpful,” said Shirley. “I saw humanity in ways that I had never experienced before in my life.”

Shirley continues to celebrate the small victories. “I saw my sister just the other day. When I called out her name she perked up and turned a little bit. In that brief moment, I saw the old Sylvia. So we are hopeful that she will have a meaningful recovery if we can get her into the right place.”

Until Sylvia recovers, Shirley knows her focus needs to be on her sister’s needs. “If she doesn’t have a voice, I have to have one for her.”

About the author(s): 

Dave Boerger is a part of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular contributor to Up To Speed. He's a recovering marketer and sitcom writer.