Kim Malecki: “The last three weeks have felt like months, and we are still very early in this battle.” (Photo courtesy of Monmouth SID)

Kim Malecki played in 77 games during her career for the Monmouth University women’s soccer team and helped the Hawks win Northeast Conference tournament championships in 2007 and 2009. The Califon, N.J. native graduated in 2011 with a degree in biology and a double minor in chemistry and health studies. She works as a physician assistant at Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia.

By Kim Malecki
Special to

I have been a physician assistant for five years, and it was not until the past month that I understood what being a healthcare worker truly meant for me. Within a matter of days, I went from working in a plastic reconstructive surgery practice to being the clinical lead at the COVID testing site in West Philadelphia, as well as working in the emergency department tent.

When I was first notified that help was needed, it was the beginning of cases in Philadelphia. I remember thinking about my colleagues in NYC, reading about the prioritizing of lives in Italy and what it meant for me to say yes. Within a minute, I had accepted the responsibility with a sense of excitement and, of course, apprehension.

The last three weeks have felt like months, and we are still very early in this battle. As cases continue to rise, it is very easy to get discouraged. Every day there is a new update, a new floor of the hospital being converted for treating COVID patients, a swell in patients on ventilators and an updated news report of how many deaths are occurring. With all these negative stories, it can be difficult to turn your mind off at night. I have found comfort in keeping busy and have surprised myself with how I have handled unprecedented circumstances.

I have met an incredible group of Penn medicine employees that are equally engaged in helping and fighting. As information surrounding this pandemic continues to evolve, I have learned it is easier to think day by day. Emotions are very high and it puts a responsibility on your shoulders that is beyond compare.

In the midst of all the negatives, there are plenty of positives. This situation has forced me to reflect on my situation, be grateful for what I have and appreciate what I can offer. I take pride in the fact that I am able to help and be on the front lines during such a pivotal point in the world. I am confident and proud to be a part of Penn medicine and impressed every day by the Philadelphia community that has continued its support during such a difficult time.