This week’s Homegrown Hero is Marianne Connelly-Semenuk, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. This past week we caught up with her to know more about her story, and what she has experienced since the pandemic started. We thank Marianne for all her efforts and for inspiring our club with her acts.
Tell me about your career and what inspires you every day?
I am a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse Practitioner, currently working at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. I absolutely love my job and the people that I work with and the families that I care for. I have cared for children with cancer and blood disorders for my whole career and the children and their families inspire me every day. The kids are always teaching us to live in the moment, smile, laugh and enjoy life. There is nothing more cathartic than a belly laugh from a child. We all need to learn to enjoy these simple things in life.
How much have your job duties changed since the pandemic started?
My job duties haven’t changed too significantly during the pandemic since, unfortunately, children continue to be diagnosed with Cancer during this time period. However, one of the things that has changed for our families is that the children cannot have visitors in the hospital except for their parents. Some of the fun events that we would normally participate in have been put on hold such as visits from Batman, or visits from a Princess. The pet therapy program where therapy dogs come to visit the children in their hospital rooms has also been put on hold. The playrooms are closed as well due to the pandemic, so the families need to stay in their rooms with the doors closed and have very limited interaction with other families on the Pediatric unit. These children were already isolated due to their illness, and the pandemic has exacerbated their isolation even from friends and family.
What’s the biggest lesson/s you’ve learned during this time period?
The biggest lessons that I have learned during this time period are: Hug your kids and your loved ones and enjoy the time that you have together; second, life is too short to sweat the small stuff; third, caring, kindness, compassion and empathy are paramount for a truly happy life; fourth, the most important things in life is your family; fifth, assume the best in everyone.