The chief respiratory therapist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital suffered a serious hand injury Saturday when the all-terrain vehicle she was riding in rolled over in northern New Hampshire, according to hospital and state Fish and Game officials.
Samantha Cafaro, 29, of East Providence, R.I., was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., after the 4:15 p.m. accident in Jericho Mountain State Park. Later, Cafaro was transferred to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where she was being treated Monday.
Cafaro, a front-line caregiver in the COVID crisis, had been one of three Boston-area medical workers who provided the Globe this spring with a series of first-person accounts of their emotional and often exhausting work during the first, startling surge in COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts.
Heidi Wilson, spokeswoman for Newton-Wellesley Hospital, described Cafaro on Monday as “a highly valued member of the team, working on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients for the past several months.”
“We are deeply saddened for what Samantha is going through,” Wilson added, “but know that the same determination and positive attitude she provides to our patients will help get her quickly on the road to recovery.”
Cafaro was riding in an ATV driven by Joshua Lisi, 31, also of East Providence, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game officials. The ATV rolled onto its side while Lisi was making a turn in a small gravel pit next to a trail, according to the officials.
Lisi was not injured, Berlin Fire Chief James Watkins said.
Cafaro received treatment at the scene before being taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin. The severity of her injuries prompted doctors to transfer Cafaro by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Cafaro has been an integral part of the pandemic response. In first-person accounts carried by the Globe, she brought readers into the intensive-care wards where Newton-Wellesley Hospital has treated COVID-19 patients.
She spoke of successes, and deaths, and the determination of health care workers to meet the demands of a mysterious, escalating crisis.
After an April 29 shift, she recounted the last moments of one patient’s life.
“I left the room for about 20 minutes while the family said its goodbyes. Once they were done, our team opened the blinds. The sun was shining, and we turned the patient toward the window and a beautiful view of the trees.
“It was time for comfort care: putting on new bedding, brushing the patient’s hair, and each taking turns holding the patient’s hand. Tears just started pouring down my face. I already was emotional because of all my other patients that day, but I felt for this particular family so much. I can’t imagine saying goodbye on a video call.
“I told the patient, ‘It’s OK, I know it’s hard. You have a beautiful view.' Even though I knew they couldn’t hear me, I hoped somehow they could.”
Heading into a respite over Memorial Day, Cafaro spoke of the need to refresh herself for the difficult work ahead.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m getting a little overwhelmed, and it’s getting a little exhausting, emotionally as well as physically,” Cafaro said. “I’ve worked a lot over these last few months, and you can sustain this for only so long.
“I’m excited about some time off. I’m hoping to take Memorial Day weekend and just sit by the water in my car and relax and decompress. I’ve had a stressful few weeks, and it’s been a roller coaster.”
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.