On a stifling Tuesday earlier this summer, Lisa* was looking forward to a late breakfast with her friend Alice* on the Upper East Side. They had only walked a block when Alice started feeling very woozy and in danger of passing out.
“Alice couldn’t take the heat and couldn’t make it another step. We were right near an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating, so I sat her down and got her some juice, but she wasn’t getting any better,” says Lisa. “We were only a block away from her home but she wouldn’t have been able to walk back, and we couldn’t get a taxi. She absolutely refused to let me call for an ambulance or to go to the ER—and when Alice is adamant about something, she’s adamant!”
Lisa was feeling increasingly desperate. Just then, as if on cue, help materialized—in the form of VNSNY Hospice nurse Vidya Hosein-Anderson, who was walking from one client’s home to another’s. Vidya had spotted the two women, who are both in their seventies, and sensed something was wrong. “As a nurse, I’m very aware when someone is not feeling well or is in distress, and I noticed both of them at the same time,” says Vidya. “One lady had her head on the table, clearly unwell. Her friend was standing behind her, rubbing her back, and frantically looking left and right, like she needed help.”
Calmly and cautiously, Vidya approached the pair. She inquired whether everything was okay, identified herself as a nurse, and asked whether they would mind if she checked Alice’s pulse. “She was cold and clammy, and the restaurant owner kept yelling that we needed to call 911, but Alice told me that she didn’t want to go to the hospital. I respected her wishes, because she was not unresponsive, says Vidya.
Her conversation with the two women strengthened Vidya’s initial suspicion that low blood sugar might be the problem. “Her friend said that she hadn’t eaten anything, so I asked a young passerby to grab a donut from a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street. Lisa warned that her friend didn’t eat donuts, but when the donut arrived I told Alice that I needed her to eat it. She lifted her head up, took it out of the bag, and just devoured it,” recalls Vidya with a chuckle. “I can see the humor in it now. Within a few minutes, she started chatting and telling me how many boyfriends she had. And she still refused to go home or to go to the hospital—she wanted to stick with their original plans and go to breakfast with her friend.”
Vidya accompanied the pair to the restaurant, made sure they got a seat, and checked Alice’s pulse again. She only left when she was sure that Alice had fully recuperated. “She was like an angel; she was extraordinary,” says Lisa of Vidya. “The minute I saw the VNSNY logo on her uniform, I knew that we were in good hands. And she was so humble. As she was leaving, I tried to get a card or something from her but she would only give me her first name. My friend Alice said ‘she’ll track you down. You’ll see!’” And track her down she did. Lisa contacted VNSNY, provided some basic clues like date, name, and neighborhood, and ultimately made a generous donation to VNSNY in Vidya’s name.
“In this day and age, when so many people just don’t care anymore and always take the easy road, this lovely nurse went above and beyond and saved the day,” says Lisa. “Sometimes you’re at the right place at the right time, and this was one of those moments. She deserves every accolade she gets!”
*Names changed/adapted to protect privacy