Published July 20, 2020
Several people associated with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences played key roles in producing a Buffalo-themed entry in New York State’s “Wear a Mask” video contest.
The purpose of the contest — which was started by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — was to produce 30-second videos from around the state that conveyed why it’s important to wear a mask in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our video is an effort to try to pay homage to the people in Buffalo that are helping the community,” says Natalia Crenesse-Cozien, a fourth-year medical student in the Jacobs School, who during the pandemic makes deliveries with fellow medical students to food-insecure families served by Buffalo Public Schools (BPS).
Crenesse-Cozien served as producer on the project and helped coordinate the video with Melinda Sanderson, director of upstate mentoring for the New York State Mentoring Program. They knew each other through the Jacobs School’s partnership with the mentoring program, which matches medical and college students with local elementary and middle schools to provide supportive, one-on-one mentoring relationships to students.
The videographer was Aaron Sing Bola, MD, a 2020 graduate from the Jacobs School who is now a trainee in an emergency medicine residency at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.
“It was very fluid. We did everything in four days,” Crenesse-Cozien says.
In true Queen City fashion, the Buffalo video submission came together as a cooperative venture.
“We wanted to find a way to portray the message without sounding condescending, to show people this is how to keep our community safe,” Crenesse-Cozien says. “With COVID-19 specifically, you can be asymptomatic and carry it and pass it on. And there are people in our community who are immunocompromised. Honestly, we don’t totally understand who is most at risk. So when you choose not to wear a mask you are not making a choice for yourself, you are making a choice for every other person you come in contact with.”
The 30-second video begins with Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) surgeon Matthew D. Chang, MD, a trainee in the vascular surgery integrated residency program, surrounded by other physicians, nurses and operating room technicians.
He says the mask is part of his daily routine. “Make it part of yours,” he says. The remainder of the video focuses on people talking about the people in their lives that they wear masks for.
Neneyo Mate-Kole, a third-year medical student at the Jacobs School and a student mentor at Futures Academy, says he wears the mask “for my mentees’ dreams.”
Larry Daniel, a Jacobs School security guard from Wisdom Protective Services, wears the mask “to keep the students safe.”
A BPS employee who provides food to BPS families, an NFTA driver and two Wegmans employees are among others in the video.
The final shot shows a group of nurses at ECMC thanking people for wearing masks.
Also playing a major role in the production was James K. Lukan, MD, clinical associate professor of surgery, who directs the general surgery residency program and started the food delivery effort to BPS students in March.
Lukan, director of the vascular access center at ECMC, helped recruit doctors and nurses for the video and also provided masks.
“Dr. Lukan was phenomenal,” Crenesse-Cozien says. “The second we brought up the idea to him he was completely on board.”
Others from the Jacobs School who provided assistance on the video were:
Crenesse-Cozien, who had never before worked on a video, found the project rewarding, thanks in large part to the cooperation she received from all the participants.
“Any time we asked for help or invited someone to participate in the project, it was an immediate yes. There was no convincing. It was, ‘what time to do want me there and I’ll be there.’ In four days we were able to pull this all together because everyone was ready to do something to contribute to the COVID-19 effort,” Crenesse-Cozien says.
Although the Western New York video didn’t make it into the final round of the statewide contest, its creators are sharing it widely on social media.