Singing nurse in Westchester County uses her talent to ease COVID patients

At the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse Alaina Smalley says Phelps Hospital Northwell Health was at capacity.

“At that time, it was every bed we had had a COVID patient in it,” she said.

Smalley was redeployed from her as a perianesthesia nurse manager to the Intensive Care Unit.

“It was a terrifying time,” she said. “We did not know as much about the virus then and every day we came in, we weren’t sure what would happen if you got the virus if you would infect your family at home.”

As a stress outlet, she turned to the other way she knows to best help people: signing.

“On an emotional level you can connect with music and it’s been proven to reduce pain levels and anxiety,” she said.

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Smalley, a classically trained Soprano, has been a member of the New York Choral Society for eight years. In the past, she’s performed with the group at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In the spring, she was picked to sing in a special celebrity-studded Nurse Heroes concert produced by Northwell Health.

This year, as the hospital readies for the second wave of virus patients and Smalley prepares for the possibility of returning to the ICU, the big Carnegie Hall concert is canceled, but the show will go on, online.

Smalley is part of the Choral Society’s special “A Carol for All Children,” which will go live online on December 15.

The hope is to bring holiday cheer in a year that has been so difficult for so many.

“I feel music can holistically heal someone whether they’re a patient or not,” Smalley said.