Hero First Responder: Bronxville Graduate Alina Atayan Print

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By Staff

Apr. 15, 2020: Alina Atayan is someone you would want on your team should you be stricken with coronavirus COVID-19.  

The twenty-six-year-old is a hero first responder currently working as a floor nurse and charge nurse on one of three COVID-19 floors at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The daughter of Rene and Chris Atayan, Alina is a 2013 graduate of Bronxville High School. She was an All-League, All-Section, and Academic All-American Lacrosse player at Bronxville as well as a first-degree black belt in jui jitsu and a third-degree black belt in karate. Alina was also the youngest sensei in Sanchin Dojo’s history.  

Alina was recruited to play Division 1 College Lacrosse at Marquette University, a school she chose because, among other reasons, it had a strong nursing program. While at Marquette, she worked at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center as a nursing assistant  and nurse extern in various areas, including joint replacement, esophageal cancer tracheostomy, opioid withdrawal, diabetic limb amputations, heart disease, and stroke.  She joined full time upon graduation.

Alina’s training as a top athlete, team member, and black belt, along with her substantial nursing training, make her uniquely prepared to be a COVID-19 nurse.  This is because stamina, composure, and teamwork are critical to caring for patients during her 12-hour night shifts at St. Luke’s.  

Alina says the biggest challenge of treating COVID-19 patients is uncertainty because each patient is different, and a patient’s condition can “change at any moment.”  She says, “The patient “might seem perfectly fine and then a half-hour later, be in serious distress.”  

As a result, Alina says it’s essential to monitor each patient very carefully and understand immediately when they are showing severe signs and need to be moved to the ICU for one on one continuous monitoring. “You have to watch closely, trust your instincts and advocate for your patients,” she says.

To keep herself safe, Alina wears an N95 mask and follows all CDC guidelines. She explains that previously N95 masks were recommended for single use in most hospitals, but that currently, the CDC has changed this standard to single masks being used until soiled. 

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"The CDC has been the gold standard that hospitals use to create policies." says Alina, "but this practice raises concern for most nurses as a potential sanitary issue."  
 
Alina says that she can't focus on the possibility of infection because it would distract her from what she needs to do, which is to help her patients.  Additionally, St. Luke's has been screening its workers for COVID-19 symptoms before their shifts start "to protect staff and patients if anyone were to contract the virus." 
 
Alina’s mother, Rene Atayan, acknowledges that she worries, but at the same time, knows that Alina is a strong, competent young woman.  
 
“I'm so proud of Alina,” says Rene, “she has followed her passion and is now helping so many people at an unprecedented time in our country.  She has always been my hero, but now more than ever.”
 
Thank you Alina for being a hero on the front lines.

Photos courtesy A. Atayan

 
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