Skilled Nursing Hero: Apsara Rosario

Skilled Nursing Hero: Apsara Rosario

Alden Terrace of McHenry

Apsara Rosario, assistant director of nursing at Alden Terrace of McHenry, which provides short-term rehab and skilled nursing services, was 13 when she immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti. After high school, she found herself living in San Diego, a military wife and mother of three. When her family returned to Chicago, she enrolled in nursing school to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

She’s thankful for healthcare opportunities here. “When I was a child, I only went to the doctor once,” she recalls. “People [in Haiti] don’t have the opportunity that I had, coming here to this country.” 

Apsara Rosario quote Rosario, 46, started reading about the Covid-19 outbreak in January and realized that the disease would target older adults with health conditions. “I remember reading about the age factor and the health factor and thinking, ‘These are my patients. If something happens, it will hit us hard.’” 

By April, the first staff member had gotten sick, and the virus spread. At the peak, some 13% of patients and 30% of staff were ill. Rosario treated patients, called sick staff members every day, communicated with worried families, and argued with hospitals, begging them to keep Covid-19 patients longer, as too many were being released to rehab and then relapsing.

Looking back, she believes that long-term care communities were hit hard, not only because of the patient population, but also because they’re medical facilities but don’t have the same protective equipment and specialists that hospitals have.

Nevertheless, Rosario stepped up to help her community battle Covid-19. “This was a war,” she says. “I felt like a soldier, and I had a responsibility.” However, like every great leader, she refuses to take credit. “Everyone’s voice was important,” she insists. “We all became one.”

Originally published in the Fall 2020/Winter 2021 print issue. Photo by Jim Vondruska