So many members of the Clarke community have been making an incredible impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to share some of their stories and celebrate their indispensable work, both inside and outside the home.
Melanie, parent of a Clarke alumnus, has worked in a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit for 18 years.
Melanie Darcy, Clarke Alumnus Parent
Pediatric Nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital
Melanie and her husband Paul, a general contractor, are parents to Jack, 11, alumnus of Clarke Boston, and Alyssa, 8. Alyssa, who has typical hearing, also took part in inclusive Birth to Age Three programming at Clarke while Jack was receiving services there. Alyssa benefitted from the intensive pre-literacy curriculum and her “peers learned from her, as well,” says Melanie. “Clarke has been really great to our family.”
For the past 18 years, Melanie has worked as a nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, ranked the number one pediatric hospital in the country. “I work in a very high intensity environment,” says Melanie. “We work well as a team under pressure. That camaraderie hasn’t changed. And since the pandemic has started, that feeling of impending doom hasn’t changed either. Now we wear masks, goggles and eye shields for full 12-hour shifts. If we’re taking care of COVID-positive patients, we wear N95 respirators, gowns, gloves—all the time.”
Melanie feels fortunate to have flexibility with her schedule as a nurse. “I switched to permanent weekends so I’m home with the kids during the week,” she says. “I’m able to be hands-on with Jack’s therapies, their sports, their homework. Then on weekends, Jack and Alyssa are home with Paul, so I’m able to focus on being a great nurse.”
When the pandemic began and schools closed, Melanie quickly established a schedule. “It’s been crucial to maintain a good organized schedule for the kids, to get schoolwork done, but also creating time for play, exercise and just being normal kids!” she says. “And Jack has done great with remote learning. Before the pandemic, we were worried about his attention and getting distracted, but now without the influence of peers, he’s been able to pay more attention.”
Jack has been meeting with his Clarke Teacher of the Deaf, Danielle Stathers, once a week for remote services during the pandemic. “That hour with Danielle, that was the one time I didn’t have to sit there and listen to everything that was happening,” Melanie says. “Jack was having a hard time with alliterations, idioms, similes, metaphors. Danielle would find different passages, share her screen, help him pick out those parts of speech and then they’d talk about it. It was super helpful.”
When asked what she’s looking forward to as we emerge from the pandemic, Melanie reflects on what she’s learned as a healthcare professional. “It’s been so gratifying to be involved with something new in the healthcare field,” she notes. “I’ve taken care of some kids who are COVID-positive, and when they come in, they are really ill. It’s been amazing to administer antiviral meds, immunoglobulin IV infusions and actually see these kids get better.”
In addition to the rewarding aspects of her career as a pediatric nurse, Melanie is of course thinking of what’s ahead for her own family, too. “Jack was very involved with Clarke Buddies before the pandemic,” she says. “We’re looking forward to that starting up again!”