By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This week is Nurse Appreciation Week. It’s a week when we take a moment to honor those on the frontlines, taking care of patients, and this year has been especially difficult for nurses dealing with COVID-19.

For nurses, the pandemic has been grueling, dealing with the protective equipment and so many sick patients and putting their lives at risk going to work.

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Thursday is a day for “thank-yous.”

Nurses at Jefferson Hospital received new masks from the Women’s Board in honor of Nurse Appreciation Week.

“Our nurses, obviously, this past year have done incredible work caring for our patients and community,” Jefferson President Rich Webster said.

Nursing in the age of COVID-19 has been harrowing.

“Scary times, but nurses are amazing, we banded together, we bonded and do what we have to do and we’re good at it,” nurse Juliette Torres said.

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Juliette Torres has been a nurse at Jefferson Hospital for 20 years. But after working extra hours during the pandemic she became a patient herself — after a blister on her foot got infected.

She is a mother of five, a diabetic and had to have a toe amputated because of the infection. Being hospitalized gave her a whole new appreciation for her fellow nurses.

“They go above and beyond for everything, they’re amazing,” Juliette said.

Here’s the really amazing part, when Juliette ran out of sick time her nurse colleagues donated their time.

“They’re vacation time and their earned time off that they get paid for they donated that time to give me hours so that I can stay home and be OK and recover,” Juliette said.

Juliette says she is overwhelmed with gratitude and looking forward to getting back to work.

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“It was always my passion to help others, so from when I was little I knew what I wanted to be, a nurse and just to give back,” Juliette said.

Stephanie Stahl