Photography by Mikey DeTemple • Interviews by Ray Rogers
Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Nurses
Dr. Christopher Travis Koke, Family Medicine, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital
What has your experience been like working during this period?
When I got the call that the ICU was expanding its capacity due to rapid incline of COVID-19 related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and need for mechanical ventilation, I was eager and excited to be able to help out, but at the same time anxious and fearful about what was to come. Fortunately, I was greeted with overwhelming support by my co-workers, who were there by my side to help me along with everything that needed to be done. The physicians, residents, nurses, medical assistants and house staff all eagerly worked together as a team to provide the safest and best care possible.
What gets you through the toughest days?
My wife, also a family physician, has been working with COVID patients as well. I couldn’t imagine going through this pandemic without her.
What are you doing to take the best care of yourself?
Getting enough sleep and eating nourishing meals has kept me grounded. Thankfully, I have still been able to surf throughout this pandemic, which helps me to be the best version of myself. With social distancing in place, I have done more video calls these past few months than ever before. Relationships are like your personal garden: The more love and nourishment you give, the more fruit and love it gives back—and love is essential for a healthy life.
James Ryan, DJ Wölffer Wine Stand Rosé Drive-thru on Mother’s Day, Sagaponack
Dalton Portella, Drive-by Art Show, at his home, Montauk
How have your creative endeavors helped you deal with these uncertain times?
My art has been my coping mechanism throughout my life. I’ve used it to deal with depression, addiction, love, hate, lust, joy and sadness, the environment and politics. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes photography and sometimes painting, but I don’t feel good unless I create on a daily basis. I’ve been playing a lot of music all along and shooting pictures. The isolation and stress are normal for me, the threat of catching or spreading a deadly virus is extra. I haven’t figured out a way to express that in my work. Or maybe I have: I painted a couple of rhinos and they’re facing extinction. And they’re all alone on a white background, isolated.
How did it feel to participate as one of the artists in the Drive-by Art Show?
Saturday morning I got caught up in the challenge of installing art outdoors in 40 mph winds, and then when I looked up, I was rewarded with smiles and gratitude.
Charlie Weimar, fisherman, Montauk
Frank Trentacoste, aka “Farmer Frank” Bhumi Farms, East Hampton
Hilton Crosby, Heart of the Hamptons, Southampton
Tell us about the work you are doing for the community.
Heart of the Hamptons provides a food pantry to the Town of Southampton. During January, we distributed enough nonperishables, frozen meats and produce (donated by HAPCO Farms, a fourth-generation local farm) to create 7,331 meals for 259 households. Last week, in just two hours, we distributed prepacked bags with enough product to create 7,879 meals. Another statistic that may help understand the magnitude of need: In 2019, from April 14 and May 14, HOH spent just $292 on food. Between the same dates in 2020, HOH spent $52,750. That’s just on food.
How can others help out in support of your efforts?
Donate money and volunteer at your local food pantry. People could also help us to find a space that is on ground level, to be able to help our community more efficiently. Currently, roughly 25,000 pounds each week comes through a small window and is then physically carried out of our basement on the other side.
Purist photographed you on delivery day.
We received three deliveries that day. The final one was a truck and driver, volunteered from Sabrosa Mexican Grill, who drove to The Clubhouse in East Hampton, where the nonperishables and produce were loaded into the truck by Jon Bon Jovi—true story. He and his wife have been very active in understanding how the East End is moving food to the people who so desperately need it now.