Ellen Matzer

I have been a nurse for nearly four decades. I received my associates degree in Nursing in 1978, worked for five years in critical care, went back to school in 1983 and graduated with my BSN in 1986.

I worked in all areas of critical care until1985 when I was compelled to leave the critical care units for a new opportunity to work exclusively with Patients with AIDS. I had the honor to working in 2 exclusive Designated AIDS units one at St. Clare’s Hospital (the first designated AIDS center in NYC) as a staff nurse, then the HIV educator, then promoted to the program director.

I was then recruited to be the nurse manager of the newly designated AIDS center at Lenox Hill Hospital in 1990. In 2000 when AIDS became a chronic manageable out patient condition, I returned to the critical care arena, working in many critical care areas. I received my certification in critical care nursing. (CCRN).

In 2002 I became involved in fitness both for myself and as a second career. I was a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor and taught such classes as aerobics, spinning, kickboxing and body sculpting. I was the fitness director of a health club Long Island for 10 years.

I am retired from teaching group fitness but I still maintain some of my certifications. I always knew I wanted to memorialize my experiences in AIDS care nursing. It wasn’t until last year that a friend suggested I write a book after hearing all of my health care experiences.

At first I said no, it was too painful and daunting a challenge. But then, I said, why not me, I had a profound life experience, one that will never be duplicated, I need to report being a witness to one of the most horrific, painful, yet poignant pieces of history in health care. I witnessed a generation of people never get to reach their potential.

I got to walk through a devastating illness with many. I came out a better nurse, one that tolerated, sadness, ambiguity, inevitable death. I got to care for so many unbelievably brave people, I need this book to bear witness to all of that. These talented, young, brave patients are part of our nations’ history. I feel compelled to tell their story.

Both Valery and I are proud to be invited to be champions for Pride 365. We have been advocates for this community for decades, even when it was not popular. we have seen many positive changes over the decades we have been in health care, but there is still much work to be done. Thank you for including us and we look forward to furthering this worthwhile endeavor!