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For the past two months, we’ve been highlighting Penguins fans on the FIRST LINE in the fight against Covid-19 on our social media pages.  We wanted to give you a little more info on some of those making a difference, so every Monday we’re introducing you to one of those nominees in our FAN FILES feature.  

Today, we’re chatting with Chandra Ruyak.

Are you an essential worker? 

I am an essential worker. I am a physician assistant at Geisinger Wyoming Valley for the hospitalists group.

For you, what has been the most challenging part of this transition?

The most challenging part of this transition has to be wearing a mask to do my job. My job essentially hasn’t changed. Wearing the mask can prove to be uncomfortable. I find that by the end of my shift, I often have headaches. Many of my coworkers are saying similar problems.

Also, at this time, families are not allowed into the hospital with patients with just a few exceptions. As a healthcare provider, I often rely on loved ones regarding history if a patient is confused or very ill and cannot provide history. I try my best to keep family updated via phone.

What hobbies or activities have you focused on while social distancing? 

I am a crafter by nature. I like to make things, especially jewelry. However, I did purchase a sewing machine quite some time ago with intentions of teaching myself how to sew. I have accomplished this during this difficult time by learning how to sew masks! Since this started, I have sewn over 100 masks. Since we are required to wear them in public, we might as well have some fun with colors and patterns! Plus they are reusable and washable. The design I use has a pocket for a filter as well. Wearing a homemade mask also helps to conserve masks for healthcare workers.

Is your family, neighbors or community doing anything unique to stay connected?

At work, I have seen patients on Skype with loved ones. We have iPads to help them with this. It is difficult for the patients to be ill and in the hospital without the support of their families being physically present. I do believe that patients feel better seeing the people they love on the screen. It is the best we can do at the moment!

What type of music or artists do you listen to?

I like lots of different things, but 80s hair metal is my favorite! Bon Jovi is my #1 and my mom and I have seen him live over 60 times over the years!

When you are home, what are your favorite snacks?

I don’t know where to start with that, however, if you have something sweet…. hand it over. I have been trying to watch what I eat. It’s so easy to gain weight and so incredibly difficult to lose weight now that I am older!

Do you have any suggestions that may help others physically or emotionally? 

Stay connected to loved ones any way you can… call, text, Skype. Also, I think getting outside and enjoying some of the nice weather we have been having is good for physical and mental health.

What’s your favorite hockey memory?

I have many hockey memories and I am thankful for that because my dad and I attended games for 18+ years. He sadly passed away from lung cancer 3/7/2018 and I miss him so. He was still going to games, not feeling well and on oxygen. While we missed a few games when he wasn’t feeling up to it, prior to this we only missed one game and this is a funny memory for me. My cousin was receiving Confirmation. I was her witness. My dad was in the church with his ear buds in, listening to the game. There is a picture my mom took outside of the church of me and my dad. Dad had his ear buds in still because the game was still on. He looked like a CIA agent with the wire hanging from his ear! So funny!!!

When hockey returns, what excites you most? 

Hockey, for me, was a break from reality, a stress release and time spent with my dad. I am thankful for the memories I have and I miss my dad so so much. I still love the sport and love the break it gives me. It’s just much different without my dad.