Salute To Coler Hospital, A Parade for Coronavirus Heroes


Exactly two years ago as the Coronavirus Pandemic smothered American life, something wonderful happened on Roosevelt Island. Residents and service workers from around the city, came together, honoring the staff at Coler Hospital working tirelessly at dulling the edge of this terrible sickness. Here is The Daily’s coverage from that time.

A salute to Coler Hospital’s staff roared up Roosevelt Island at noon today. Weeks of risk and hellish work rewarded with cheers and love.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

After two of the longest months in New York history, healthcare workers who fought to save lives at Coler Hospital got a moment in the sun. The day was overcast. Sprinkles dotted the pavement.

But one of the most touching happenings Roosevelt Island has ever seen warmed hearts and minds.

Staff from Coler plus its sister Roosevelt Island Medical Center grew to a crowd of hundreds, awaiting the planned salute.

An organized rally in honor of Coler and RIMC staff, all laboring for weeks, battling the coronavirus, brought anyone who could be spared outside.

Rally at Noon

The announcements said noon, but this is New York. 12:10 was the real time for the salute to Coler.

Judith Berdy, president of Coler’s Auxiliary, devoted some time to Robert Hughes, the hospital’s resilient executive director. Hughes retired earlier this year after shepherding Coler through its two toughest years.

Judith Berdy represented Roosevelt Island residents who’ve devoted countless volunteer hours and donations for Coler.

Berdy isn’t just the local historian but one of our most active volunteers. She may also be the community’s most vocal cheerleader.

She kept a safe distance, but Roosevelt Island’s environmental activist, Christina Delfico, arrived with support for the salute to Coler Hospital.
The Rehab Department stood out in red uniforms.

A surprise, healthcare workers expected to be frazzled from overwork and emotional overload were instead upbeat and welcoming.

In a lighter moment, a United State Postal Service truck arrived just ahead of the salute. Coler staff applauded and stepped it up when the driver joined the crowd.

The Salute To Coler Hospital and RIMC

At 12:10, sirens blaring, the salute from FDNY, NYPD, EMS and RIOC PSD rolled down Main Street, curling into Coler’s Main entrance drive.

Cheers of mutual respect and admiration competed with sirens and cheers.

An unforgettable, touching moment. heroes saluting heroes, challenging a brutal illness, honoring lifesaving work.

As FDNT, NYPD, EMS and PSD, all of which lost many lives to Covid-19, rolled back to their tasks, Coler’s staff followed, returning the salute.


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    • It was one of the most moving events I’ve ever experienced in my nearly 30 years here. Nothing like it will happen again, at least not in our lifetimes, I hope. The energy and optimism with which Coler Staff met the day was very encouraging.
      Thank you!

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