Camp Infirmary Nurse Voices Concerns Over Camps Opening This Summer

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(AP Photo/Camp Dora Golding)

NEW YORK (VINnews) — The following letter was submitted to VINnews by a an experienced nurse who works in a camp infirmary:

I dont usually write letters to the editor, but after seeing an article about the push to open overnight camps this summer, I feel it is my obligation to write this.

I have been working in a frum overnight camp infirmary for many years. My family is desperate to go camp just as much as everyone else is.

This whole proposal that overnight camps can be run as “closed system” with everyone being tested and cleared for COVID-19 before entering sounds great on paper, but in reality the plans and protocols for each camp need to be vetted and address many issues such as the following:

– ER trips. Kids will be kids. Every trip, we have to send dozens of kids to the local ER (and sometimes to farther out hospitals if they need a higher level of care) – this involves sending the medical escort (and maybe a camp driver) out of the closed system and exposing them to a hospital setting. How will camps deal with such common scenarios?

– Camp support workers. Sometimes the people who clean the camp and work at the back of the kitchen get cut as well. We patch them up and sometimes they should go to the ER but dont want to because they dont have health insurance. If they dont have health insurance, they are probably not getting tested or checked properly, and out of fear of losing their jobs, would probably not report if they were in contact with someone who tested positive.

– Deliveries. Food deliveries and packages come daily. There is no way to verify that any of these people coming in are not carrying coronavirus.

All it takes is one person to bring it into the “closed system” and it C”V doesnt end well. I for one do not want to be on the front lines of an outbreak in a summer camp.

A Concerned Parent / Staff Member

Name withheld upon request (longtime nurse in well-known camp for years)

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107 COMMENTS

    • I agree. Every child should be locked in their bedroom for the entire summer. Their meals should be served to them in their rooms. They should be let out once a day for the bathroom and once a week for a shower. We must seek and find new ways to punish these kids. They are evil.

  1. The danger of kids staying home the entire summer is a bigger danger and risk than if a child has covid. 99% of the kids are immune to the virus coz most families had at least 1 member with covid. So the chance a kid should become sick is very small. The emotional health of the kids is now at risk.

    • Your comments about immunity for children is without any medical basis and even worse is dangerous, please confirm your facts. In fact there are 200 plus children that now have the Kawasaki like disease and that number is growing and it is directly related to covid-19.
      Emotional health is very important but physical health is even more important

      • 200 out of 4.6M?

        The danger of kids home are not jut emotional . Kids can die with no strcture. Overwhelmed parents lose site of them and they run in the street etc.. Every summer we have such accidents

      • The Kawasaki like disease you are talking about it as a result of covid 19! After speaking to a pediatrician who says this is as a result of antibodies means that they are now immune to covid bit isn’t contagious. So if they have the antibodies why shouldn’t they go to camp?

      • You keep on asking the same question over and over. Here is what I suggest. ALL STAFF should be tested for antibodies and should be positive! Chances are that they are not contagious and cannot transmit the virus. Good?

    • except the at home or bungalow the achrayis is on the parent. in camp its the responsibilty of the director and staff. is it fair to out this achrayis on them?

  2. Written out of ignorance. We should not advocate for a complete closed system. The summer camps should be open on the premise that the risk to children in miniscule. We don’t close the camps every year because there is a risk of drowning. We accept a small risk. Under 21 risk from covid is less than risk of drowning. Kawasaki disease can easily be diagnosed and is not contagious. The camps should open with the understanding that there will be no of ground trips and staff do not go off grounds unless for essential purposes.
    There is no credible dr who will say that this poses any undue risk to the children or surrounding community.

  3. And what if a camper wakes up in his bunk in middle of the night not feeling well. Are we gonna leave it in the hands of a half-asleep 16 year old counselor to decide if he needs emergency attention.

    The only way it could work is if every camp infirmary runs like a 24 hour ER with ventilators and other equipment. They must all have a full time doctor and respiratory therapist on staff.

    They need to install emergency landlines in every bunkhouse and have night patrol on call to help with medical issues.

    Relying on hatzalah alone is just stupid. The difference of a few minutes can be life or death sometimes.

    • Utter nonsense. How many children worldwide have been put on ventilators due to covid? The few children who have been effected all had underlying conditions. Children with medical conditions should not go to camp. Statistically, if all brooklyn children go to overnight camp it is likely that the entire summer will pass without incident. Children’s temperature should be taken and logged every day. Anyone with fever should be immediately isolated and sent home to quarantine. Even though it will likely not be covid. Other than that the summer can proceed mostly normaly. If course no one goes off ground.

      The benefit will be that the children will all pick up herd immunity which will benefit us all when they get home.

      These hysterics are not helpful. At one point politics and fear mongering will have to give way to common sense so that we see ourselves out of this situation.

    • Seriously, how many covid patients were feeling 100% when they went to sleep and in middle of the night was in such bad situation that they needed a ventilator before hatzalah got there? Let’s take this seriously but not out of proportion. There are allergic kids that come to camp and within seconds have a hard time breathing if they get too close to let’s say peanut butter. Do we close camp down or do we find a way to make it work?

  4. Well I certainly hope this nurse will not be getting paid for sitting home and doing nothing. Worthless nurses. All they do is tell us to take an asprin. Lazy good for nothings.

  5. I think that camps should be open and all precautions should be put in place to insure the kids have a safe and enjoyable summer the kids need camp to relax and grow they will mamish go nuts if they stay home the city is the worst place for kids to be in the summer its pikuach nefesh kids need camp it’s a necessity both for their ruchnius and their gashmius

  6. If your really an RN then you know what a tabletop exercise is, all the questions can be solved, guess what we dealt with more complicated issues in the past.
    PS no one is forcing to take this summer job

    • Thank you bubby for your concern. But I think a a month and amonth and a half should be more then enough to work out such minor obstacles . And let 100 k kids breath after sitting home for 4 month . I would like for VIN to find a social worker that works with kids to write an article how not having camp would affect many kids mentally

  7. Lets tackle each issue

    ER trips: Set up a quantined room with covid tests. Camp driver and child will need to stay there for a few days to ensure they don’t test postive. ( I don’t think you need two weeks if you have tests, a few days should do it)

    Camp support workers.: Correct every camp needs to get its own covid tests available for these kind of people as well as above.

    Deliveries.: food delveiries/ truck drivers can’t get out of their truck.The truck pulls up to the kitchen and the kitchen staff bring out deliveries. People seem to say that food is not an issue for covid. Thats why every school is shtipping food and free pizzza pies and not cnecerned about food germs. I assume delievery is raw closed boxes.

    Of course there is a treat and scare . Its not risk free. But with some mitigtaion risk is low and we need to move on

    • Ok. between me and the other camp driver where i work in the summer we did about a dozen er trips in the first week of camp alone. what happens after the first two or three runs when we are all quarrantied.

      when is the last time you have been in a camp kitchen with workers and deliveries? and waht are you going to tell the ups driver and the laundry – will you test eveyone folding it at the place?

      • Ups driver and laundry at front gate . Not in camp. There will be a lot of inconveniences but it’s doable and so will the food be doable . Only fair issue I see is the camp driver ( I don’t believe that you were one but that’s a side point ) . Let the camp driver be one with anti bodies chutch . And give tests .

        Let me remind you guys That this is not a month ago. Covid is basically gone and in two months even more gone . With extra caution even with an imperfect system it’s doable

        • I disagree. The plan they have is to have hatzolah transport all sick kids to city hospitals. So the camp driver and escort are not needed. Then they can quarantine at home till cleared to return to camp. All of this has been researched and planned in detail. We need to open the camps people are coming upstsate legal or not and the kids need this more than anything.

          You do make a good point though about the laundry. Even if they drop off at the front of camp covid can be in the clothes we have no idea who is handling or sneezing on it.

          btw antibodies doesnt mean you are immune or that you cantcant carry the virus titi others.

        • Covid is basically gone?? We lose ten thousand people a week, and the country is opening up so in three weeks more deaths. Stop saying insane things with no proof.

  8. This is safek pikuach nefesh.
    Can we leave this to people who are capable of deciding such weighty matters?
    Or does everyone on VIN get to decide safek pikuach nefesh questions?

    • The Camp Directors met with medical professionals and Rabbonim. They came up with a plan that will hopefully be approved. Yes this nurse, and rightfully is afraid of what can happen. That’s why doctors and Rabbonim and the directors sat together to develop a safe plan. If we learnt one thing from all of this it is don’t forget Hashem is in charge. If we take proper precautions and we do our hishtadlus and we all daven, we can leave the rest to Hashem

  9. This so called nurse is using her occupation to spread merely an opinion at best or politics at least.
    Opening or closing camps have nothing to do with being a nurse, I have a Pediatric Physician in my immediate family and they have no qualms whatsoever in opening camps, and they also desperately want to send their kids to camp.

    Stop saying your personal opinion in a disguised professional opinion.

    • @Yid in Boro Park, and to your previous alias
      Whether people want to send their kids to camp is a valid thought but has no standing in his discussion.

      In this world, a medical Doctor deals with a patient and gives orders, The Medical Doctor has no idea of camp or family management, what isolation can be done etc. Talk is cheap.

      My message to you is, Stop saying your personal opinion in a disguised professional opinion.You are not a professional and your relative has no standing here.

      • It happens to be that they were also a camp Dr. for a few years.

        They are a DR. and they went to school for a lot of years, not like this so called nurse.

        • @ Yid in Boro park
          You always have an answer, too bad on the internet there is no way to know what is true.
          being a Dr in a camp is less headaches than the nurse. In my days there was no Camp Dr in a camp that had typical kids. The nurse is the one with hour to hour responsibility for sick kids, not the Dr. Combine this with some cases of Covid to crash suddenly and some with Kawasaki type illness to get deadly sick with no clear warning, I would not want to be the nurse.

          I feel like it is time for you to get a new name online, your tendency to have an answer of some kind for everything makes you sound like a young teen with too much time and imagination.

  10. how selfish and ignorant are all of you that claim its best for kids to be in sleepaway camp. This letter is from a camp staff nurse, that has spent more time with kids in camp that needed medical attention. thats her JOB!! to all you parents out there that need a break, well no one said being a parent is easy. I myself have a full house bh. We have had the luxury of sending our kids out daily to school, and now due to this foreseen situation that has befallen us, we need to do our duty and take care of our kids!!! and it aint ez. But to take a chance to send off our kids cause parents can’t handle much more of them home?! Im sorry at times like this, our kids should not be sent in harms way. Hashem should watch over everyone and may we see the end of this diffucult times fast!!

    • This so called nurses “letter to the editor” was most probably written by some of vows iz neias staff, just to get more clicks to their site.
      We should ask a doctor if they think it’s ok to open,

    • Sorry parent. Your children need to socialize to be healthy. If camps and medical professionals feel they can take the achrayus, then each individual parent can decide if they wan to or don’t want to send.

    • Bh you have the luxury to do your duty and take care of kids . Other parents can’t perform our duty since we work . We were responsible people who always had a day care plan so we can put a roof over our kids home and care for their well being . We simply can’t watch them all summer unless we give up our jobs . We can’t do Both. And that doesn’t make us irresponsible

  11. “most of the data seems to indicate that children do not transmit the virus in significant numbers”.
    American Center for Disease Control

  12. @SK
    None went to sleep %100 ok (no fever no cough
    or heavy breathing or bad headaches) and woke up all of a sudden With life threatening symptoms most had minor symptoms for days and then it became bad,
    I my self responded to numerous calls in the first 2 weeks when it hit our community, the answer was always it started a couple of days ago

    • @NYMET exactly my point. I was responding to the person that wrote “what happens if in middle of the night a child wakes up and can’t breath, what can a half sleep 16 1/2 year old do…. see their post above. I was commenting exactly what you were saying. If they are going to sleep and are not displaying symptoms then chances are they aren’t going to wake up in middle of with difficulty breathing from this virus.

  13. You clearly don’t understand the gravity of kids staying home for the summer. Each and every summer there are risks involved and a GOOD capable, competent nurse understands how to deal with any situation. Last summer we dealt with the measles outbreak without closing down the camps. There’s always a risk factor that needs to be evaluated but more that that Hashem runs the world and once you do all in your power to keep everyone safe then it will work out. Being a nurse, is a job for people who know what they’re doing. The camps that will open iyh are going to follow the governement regulations and safety precaution to ensure everyone’s safety. We dont need medical staff to spew unnecessary doubt and chaos more than already spoken without having the background to support their unsolicited opinion. If you feel you have the achrayus and have the communities best interest in mind, please make sure you review all information before posting. Your naivete is far from chizuk. Its misguided. A camp that chooses to open administers responsibility and proves that they are prepared to follow all guidelines and face any scenarios, and with Hashem help all will be good. Hatzlocha.

  14. Selfish parents will pay big bucks to be rid of their children, at any
    cost. Yead, they ‘love’ their children. They just can’t tolerate
    having to have them around the house –ALL YEAR–.

    • What does a bitter old single bachelor like you know about children? You obviously had an abusive upbringing. Please don’t project your chesronos on everyone else.

    • Caring parents who know it’s a greater danger for kids to stay home while the juggle work and child care , will pay big bucks for camps so their child stays safe mentally and physically.

      Caring parents who know that kids live for camp and it keeps them going all year bec of the fun will pay big bucks for camp

  15. Anyone who is feeding into the NY/CA model of closing everything because of this “Mageifah” can crawl under their bed & follow direction from Mommy DeBlasio & Daddy Cuomo. The rest of the US & the world have opened up & is moving forward.

    • 90% of the let’s move forward and open up now crowd will be sitting in a nice locked office with minimal if any interaction. They are just worried how will the their sucker tenants pay the rent on the sure thing real estate investments they thought were untouchable. Come out of hiding from your management offices, take a hcq with zinc and join me on a crowded train then we can talk about opening up.

      • I guess I am from the 10%.

        We also don’t believe “ let’s all open everything “. We believe open what’s essential. Hair salons are not essential and neither is dog grooming or liquor stores . But basic daycare centers schools and camps are essential for kids . That’s where you need to draw the line .

  16. Great concerns, poor conclusions. Camp activities this summer should be toned down to reduce those concerns, increase safety and sensitivity to the current situation. Kitchen staff should be frum kids (even if it means a higher salaries) Meals can be toned down too. No trips outside of camp this year. Social distancing should be practiced when possible to reinforce this behavior when home. Dont throw out the baby with the bath water. Lets teach out kids how to deal and behave. Creative solutions not close it down.

  17. I wish I were as smart as everyone else on VIN.

    As a parent and grandparent of school age children I don’t know what we are going to do because we’d like to give the kids a break, there are risks involved, to them and to me and the rest of my family, especially my parents, and I am not a doctor.

    There are now 13 sailors on a US Navy ship who have been infected for a second time so maybe there is no real immunity. I don’t know and experts agree they don’t know either.

    How are you all so sure one way or the other, to the point that you are willing to take achrayis la’achar meah ve’esrim for the consequences of your advice?

    I’m davening just to make the right decisions for my own family. Why would anyone offer eitzas to other people?

    • Phineas,Let me try to dissect your comment,

      “there are risks involved, to them ”
      Risks of inaction to children are more dangerous both physically and mentally.

      especially my parents
      Yup your parents should stay far away from your children. And 14 days after your children come home form camp please social distance from your parents

      Re the 13 sailors,
      There are no guarantees. A vaccine is the closest you’ll get. Till then everything is a risk. But if you combine four or 5 factors each on its own are not riskless but minimal, the risk is so minimal that its not concerning.

      1) We got it already. 13 sailors are rare
      2) Curve is way down, near zero for us and way down in NYC
      3) Kids don’t get it often and not nearly as bad. Not clear they are transmitters. (Sure kahawaski but that’s 70/4.6M. again rare).
      4)We have much better mitigation strategies, maple testing, better monitoring than 3 months ago.
      5) Adults only healthy and young should be near kids

  18. Sternberg-as well as every other summer camp operated while SARS was prevalent, no need for added hysterics.
    Correct safety measures ( within reason) yes.
    Hysteria no!

  19. Unlike schools, camps are a luxury, not a necessity, and therefore not worth the risk. Let’s focus on the more important issue of getting schools open safely in the fall.

  20. It’s easy to dismiss and say that COVID has passed, and if camps were open during SARS and measles, they should open up now. The problem is that there is so much unknown about the new MISC-C syndrome, so how can anyone make a safe assessment? As of this morning, the are 147 children in New York City with Kawasaki-like symptoms, and only 69 of them tested positive for antibodies or coronavirus. How can camps ensure that children are safe without knowing how they are vulnerable? I would love for my kids to go to camp, and they will be greatly disappointed if they can’t, but if the decision had to made today, I wouldn’t let them go. Hopefully in three or four weeks the picture will clearer and there will be less concern. For all those who are counting the number of cases and saying that there is minimal risk, keep in mind that ALL of these cases have popped up recently, so this is brand new. How in the world do you know what the risk is?

    • As of this morning, the are 147 children in New York City with Kawasaki-like symptoms, and only 69 of them tested positive for antibodies or coronavirus.

      1) we dont know that its linked
      2)147 out of the entire NYC a nd 3 months in seems inconsequential. More kids get the flu

      How can camps ensure that children are safe without knowing how they are vulnerable
      Noone can ensure anything. But you can’t keep kids locked up forevrer. the summer is many kids life line. One has to go with the facts on the ground or its endless.

      . For all those who are counting the number of cases and saying that there is minimal risk, keep in mind that ALL of these cases have popped up recently,
      Its 3 months since covid started in NY and 6 months in China,. If this is all the popped up that’s not “recent” in my mind. What would you do if for 5-10 years after covid kids can get Kawaski? This is an endless game.
      Furthermore, one can look at trends. When covid started it caught on like wild fire. Here the number of confirmed cases are not growing by large amounts

  21. What’s the commotion ? Hatzolah says its hardly taken ONE patient to Hospital for Covid-19 in the last FOUR weeks … so in our community many or almost all homes have had a corona patient and the children have already been exposed to the Virus and most have had the virus (with or without symptoms) … 90% of people in our communities have already had the Virus …

    Time to open all the Shuls, Yeshivas and Camps because our communities haven’t seen more than a handful of cases (here I mean new cases but hospitalizations in our communities is zero)

    The only reason the mosdos and shuls are closed is POLITICS.The Rabbonim and Rishei Yeshivas need to figure a way to open in a way the Police will not stop them and we move on.

    This wave of Corona at least for our communities is OVER. Lets get past it and let Tefila and Learning start.

    Once Tefila and Learning start we will have Siyaata that Hashem will take care of us

  22. The constant cries of, we do our hishtadlus and we all daven, we can leave the rest to Hashem, are just too foolish for words when we do our hishtadlus basically means we throw our arms up in the air and scream, Oy Eibishte, Oy Eibishte. Let’s not forget that the Eibishte sent this plague to the whole world and the Eibishte killed off all the Roshei Yeshivos and Rebbes. What does that tell you about the value of learning and Rebbes?

  23. There is NO understanding about antibodies yet. NONE. HOW LONG DO THEY LAST? ARE THEY EQUAL IN ALL POST-INFECTED PEOPLE? Can you get REINFECTED? No MDs know. Try to think and not be a conformist.

    • There is an undertsanding that it reduces risk. How long ? , to what exeent etc.. Who knows.

      If it were the only factor you’d have a point.

      But there are 5 other factors that reduce the risk as well.

      Despite your multiple screen names yingele try not to think of this as a conformist anti trumper.

  24. If antibodies do not impart immunity then a vaccine will not work either. If that is the case, do you plan to have the whole world locked down forever? Ridiculous. We might as well open up and take our chances.

    The fact is that antibodies do impart immunity as they do for almost every other virus out there. This is proven by the fact that you have not heard of a single covid case in weeks in heimish areas. The “13 sailors” have another explanation. Have you heard of a single case of someone getting reinfected any dying?

    On top of that, under 65 is very low risk of dying (about the same as driving 400 miles in a car, we drive to Canada all the time). The risk to under 20 is about the same as getting hit by a car (or less). These viruses tend to disappear of the summer months in any case.

    Taking everything into account, the issue of schools and summer camps is purely a political one. The politicians have gotten drunk with power and they cant get themselves to un-clench their bite

    I challenge anyone to make a medically valid case for not opening the camps. Taking into account the harm being done to children being stuck at home for months on end.

    I will turn this around and say that the government should actually use emergency funds to subsidize the camps to make sure everyone gets a chance to go. As a safe method to building up herd immunity.

    • The antibody concentration levels they are measuring with the vaccine are significantly higher than they find in recovered patients. It could have to do with the viral load exposed to.

  25. My choice, for my kid, is to keep them home. I appreciate the practical information in this article and I happen to agree with it. I wonder if camps that do choose to open will offer refunds to parents who are not willing to take the risk. Nobody in my family contracted the virus. For our situation we are opting out.

  26. In many (most) camps, the rabbeim and other staff do not live in the camp. In many girls camps, the husbands of the female staff are away all week, coming up for shabbos. I’m curious how this was addressed by the proposal to open camps?

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