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  • Ruth Walker

Here are our heroes


Steve Kaufman and Enza Santoro. Photograph: Phil O'Brien (note: this picture was taken 3 weeks ago before social distancing)

A few weeks ago, Steve Kaufman, supervising pharmacist at Duane Reade on 9th Ave - 43rd/44th St, nominated his head pharmacy clerk, Enza Santoro, for our Hell's Hero award. This is what he said:


“Enza Santoro came to the United States from Italy when she was five years old, and has lived on W43rd St her whole life," he said. "She worked at the Victoria supermarket and Manhattan Plaza and is now the head pharmacy clerk at Duane Reade, on 9th Ave. She is the kindest, most caring person I have ever met. She has taken money out of her own pocket to pay for people’s medication and has called pharmaceutical companies to get samples and coupons to help patients pay for their medications. She is constantly calling patients to see how they are feeling and reminding them to take their meds.

“She has delivered prescriptions to patients after we closed, and constantly helps people with their insurance, and fights with the insurance companies to get patients’ medications covered. She seems to know everyone in the neighborhood and doesn't preach the righteous life – she lives it. And the best part is she's contagious she makes all of us better people just by being around her. She is my Hell's Kitchen hero.”


But since the start of the Coronavirus crisis, both Steve and Enza have been on the front line, providing vital meds and managing the rising panic with calm and professionalism. "People say to me: 'What should I do?' The first thing I say is: 'Stop watching the news. And if you saw it on Facebook, ignore it.'"


"It’s crazy here," he says. "The biggest thing is people wanting to make sure they have their medication because they keep seeing reports of shortages."


Even his own wife is in self-quarantine, in case Steve brings home the virus. "She's being overly cautious," he says.


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