Retired Marlborough ICU nurse gives ‘shirt off her back’ to help former coworkers

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By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer

Carol Raiano at work photo/submitted

Marlborough – Carol Raiano retired from Newton-Wellesley Hospital in October, following a 43-year career as an intensive care nurse on the night shift. Little did she know at the time that there was a pandemic on the way. 

“I am one of those oldies but goodies with underlying medical conditions, so I can’t even go back to help. Sometimes I call in at night to check in with my crew and hearing them say that there isn’t enough PPE (personal protective equipment) just got to me,” Raiano admitted.

One of her friends suggested that they could use fabric masks underneath their N95 masks so when they leave a patient’s room, they leave the N95 there and are still somewhat protected to go out into the hallways. (Using the N95 mask room to room risks cross-contamination.) The fabric masks can be used once and then washed and sterilized. That was all Raiano had to hear. The problem was, she didn’t have much fabric around the house, and shipments of non-essentials are a low priority right now. But what she did have an abundance of were her scrubs, her old uniforms, per se. 

“I decided this would be a great way to turn them into something useful,” she said. 

She is making the masks as quickly as she can and will leave them on her doorstep for one of her former coworkers to pick up when they’re ready. 

“I am doing this because I can’t help my buddies. They’re on the front lines and I used to be right there with them. They are my other family and I can’t sit by and do nothing,” she said.  

She’s not sitting by; she is literally giving them “the shirts off her back”.