My name is Mark Kalladeen and I work in Summit at The Connection as a Personal Fitness Trainer.  I very much enjoy working in Healthcare and since The Connection has closed temporarily, I have decided to work as a Nurse’s Aide on the Front Line at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville. I have been there for a little over a month now and so far, my experience has been one to remember.  

At first, given all that the media was saying about Covid, I was very scared to get into the field. The last thing I wanted to do was get infected or bring it home to my parents who already have some preexisting conditions of their own. Thankfully, the hospital makes sure that we are well protected before, during, and after each shift.  For starters, they give us reusable scrubs that we change into those before our shift and change out of afterwards, not having to bring them home and exposing our families.  We also, thankfully, have always been well equipped with PPE (hairnet, n95s, face shields, gowns, gloves), and so I never feel unprotected to help with these patients. Lastly, everyone in the hospital has been very supportive, helping one another and making sure we all stay safe throughout the process. It has become a very family-like environment, just like at The Connection! 

The days end and I head home, change my shoes before entering my car, and race to the shower before sitting down anywhere in the house. I also have been managing to exercise (I hope you are all too!) at least 3-4x a week and take many vitamins just to stay healthy throughout this entire process. What was at first very nerve wrecking for me has become the norm and I have gotten used to the craziness that now lies within the hospital.  I remind myself that I love to help people and that these patients need that support and assistance to get well and back home to their families. 

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When I started in April, the hospital was at capacity, but as time has passed the numbers have gone down and a lot of units are closing as they no longer need to be used to accommodate those Covid patients. As a matter of fact, this past weekend was the first time I worked a shift on an all negative floor! It was a relief to see that progress is being made given all that I have seen and been through in the past month while working. 

So, thank you all for staying home! It really does help a lot and the sooner we can get these numbers down the sooner we can resume doing the things we miss most in our lovely community. 

If you need any health or fitness tips please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone of us here at The Connection! I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Stay Safe, 

Mark Kalladeen, Personal Trainer

The Connection is teaming up with the Front Line Appreciation Group of Summit to host a virtual 1-mile 'Superhero Fun Run' to support actual local Summit superheroes -- the front line healthcare workers and first responders -- on Saturday, May 23.

Participation is free and all are encouraged to wear their favorite superhero costume, shirt, cape, shield -- or even scrubs -- and share their support on social media. All are welcome to contribute a donation to benefit the folks working tirelessly on behalf of the Summit community. Every dollar raised will be donated to the Front Line Appreciation Group of Summit to provide meals and nourishment to the nurses, doctors, techs, and front-line workers.