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Mother-daughter duo do their part to #CRUSHCOVID

mother daughter 

(l-r): Frances Proto, RN; and Nichole Proto, patient care associate 


As mother and daughter, Frances and Nichole Proto do a lot of things together. On Jan. 6 they rolled up their sleeves and offered their arms at the same time to receive the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Frances, a registered nurse who was on various units at both the Saint Raphael and York Street campuses for more than 40 years, currently works at NEMG in Trumbull. Nichole is a patient care associate on SP 6-4 and is studying to become a nurse – the third generation in her family to do so. (Her grandmother Frances Gilchrist was a nurse at the Hospital of Saint Raphael for nearly five decades.) Both say that their family ties are a large part of the reason why they each scheduled their appointments for their COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Nichole is raising three young children with her husband, and I am the primary babysitter for my grandkids when she is working. My husband and I are in our 60s. We also share caregiver responsibilities for my 91-year-old mother-in-law, who has a number of health conditions,” said Frances. “Nichole and I don’t want to get sick, but we also don’t want to bring the virus home to our loved ones. It’s our job to protect them as well as ourselves.”

Nichole adds that she also feels a duty to protect the patients that arrive at her unit. “If we test positive, we expose the patients. We shouldn’t be giving the virus to any of our patients.”

Before scheduling the appointment, Frances said she researched the efficacy and science behind the vaccine. “I worked with Dr. Peter Marks when he was here at Smilow. I read an abstract that he wrote about the vaccine and listened to a video he did. He said the vaccine is safe and effective. I trust him completely,” she said. “And as a mother, I would never have allowed Nichole to get the vaccine if I didn’t think it was safe.”

Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at the Food and Drug Administration. He led the Adult Leukemia Service and served as Chief Clinical Officer of Smilow Cancer Hospital until joining the FDA in 2012.