Annie Glass is planning a career as a homicide detective.
A third-year criminal justice major at Northeastern, Glass knows she will be expected to handle unprecedented, uncomfortable situations, and she is building those skills now.
On co-op as a public security officer at Boston Medical Center, Glass spends her shifts in daily contact with workers, patients, family members, and people experiencing homelessness, any of whom may be contagious with the novel coronavirus.
Her mother, Virginia Casey, a senior research scientist at Northeastern, has lobbied for her daughter to reconsider the placement. But Glass has refused to quit.
“Even though I’m smaller, I think I still bring a lot to the job in general,” says Glass, who is 5 feet, 2 inches tall. “I like working with the officers, I like a lot of my co-workers, they’re all respectful… They treat you like you’re a full-timer, like all the other employees.”
Despite the spreading of the virus in Massachusetts—the state had more than 36,000 confirmed cases as of Saturday night—Glass intends to stay.
“I appreciate and understand the concern,” Glass says. “At the same time, when I start working somewhere, I’m usually dedicated, which is also why I refuse to stop.”
Sgt. Vincent Porcaro, who graduated from Northeastern and was a co-op at Boston Medical Center, supervises the evening shift of public safety officers. He’s been a guiding light for Glass.
“He makes me feel like I can get somewhere,” she says. “He started where I started. He’s definitely an inspiration.”
Part of Glass’s role is to ask people who are loitering around the building, but not seeking medical care, to leave, as Boston Medical Center is “practically on lockdown,” she says. People experiencing homelessness typically enter the facility to seek warmth, but the hospital is trying to reduce gatherings so fewer people will be exposed to the virus, Glass says.
“I’ve also had homeless people come in asking if we treated the homeless who may have COVID-19,” Glass says. “And we always say yes.”
Working in an environment with numerous COVID-19 patients has changed Glass’s routine at home. She leaves her work jacket and boots at the hospital and when she arrives at her home in Brookline, Massachusetts, she changes into a robe in the hallway and heads straight to the shower.
Although Glass is not showing symptoms of COVID-19, she keeps her distance from her mother in the house and the two make sure not to share any items.
Taking the necessary safety precautions has been a compromise, as Casey remains worried about her daughter’s exposure to the virus. But as a security officer, Glass is an essential worker. And her job is more important than ever.
Glass will complete her co-op in late June, and hopes to continue working at Boston Medical Center part-time while taking online classes.
“I still feel like I can leave a mark at this place,” Glass says.
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