Owensboro High School Graduate, Emily-Ann Arnett, moved to Ohio to continue her career in medicine. She is a Pediatric Nurse Practioner and felt that her service was needed in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic after watching reports. So she signed up to make the trip.
Emily said she just kept seeing all the stories on the news about how overrun the hospitals were and how overworked the nurses are and she wanted to help.
She found a company sending nurses to NYC for 21 days with 12-hour shifts straight in a row. You do three weeks with no days off and then return home.
She talked to the Medical Director who was very supportive of her decision and helped arrange for the time off to go.
She flew United to get there and her flight was even FREE even upgraded me to first class. There were less than 10 people on the flight. The airports were empty. United was amazing and announced the names of the nurses as they boarded and cheered for them when we landed in NYC. They even had signs with all the nurse’s names.
Emily was assigned to work in a local emergency room. The hospital she was assigned to mainly travel nurses because a good majority of the staff nurses are out sick with COVID.
Her company has sent thousands of nurses to NYC and Nola, her group alone contained 400. Here is what Emily share with us;
The ER is busy, lots of people coming in with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. These patients are sick. It is not just affecting the elderly. It is affecting the young and healthy. People with no medical problems are dying or needing machines to breathe for them for weeks at a time. Patients are not allowed to have visitors because they are trying to cut down on the spread of COVID. I know nurses that have bought phone charges with their own money to help patients charge their phones so they can face-timing their families. People are dying alone. We as nurses are there but family is not allowed to be present. We hold their hands and say a little prayer when they pass and hope that we also don’t get sick and that our families stay well. I can’t even imagine my family member being sick in the ICU and alone. There are enough ventilators and I’m lucky my facility has enough PPE. My first day on the unit I was terrified to take my n95 off and didn’t stop to drink or pee my entire 12-hour shift. I have noticed as the weather is getting warmer the longer I’m here the more people are coming out. The ER staff comments on this and prays a second surge isn’t coming soon. I wish everyone would realize that it’s as bad as they say and stay at home. I know I didn’t believe it, I doubted and thought the news was exaggerating. It is not an exaggeration it is real and it is dangerous. We are lucky in our states that we didn’t have this huge influx of patients swarming to the hospitals. Our small cities with fewer hospitals would not be able to handle this. They have turned units that haven’t been open in years into ICU wings. New York has been very welcoming and appreciative of us as nurses. From the Uber driver to the housekeeper at the hotel to the people that cheer and bang pots and pans every night at 7 pm. People and restaurants are donating meals to the hospitals so we have something to eat during our long shifts. They are thankful that we came to help and it makes us feel a little bit better about this tough situation even if only for a few minutes. The hospital I am working at makes a hospital-wide announcement every time a patient successfully comes off the ventilator and we all take a second to cheer and clap. Today there were two. Yesterday I got to line the ambulance bay with all the ER nurses while a patient that had been admitted with COVID was finally discharged. We all cheered and wiped away a few tears when we saw how good this patient looked. If I could get one message out there to people it’s don’t give in just yet. I know we’ve been staying at home for weeks, and I know people are anxious to get back working and for life to get back to normal. But we are lucky. We flattened the curve and didn’t have the huge outbreak NYC had. My advice to others stick it out a little bit longer, listen to the governor, and follow his recommendations. Maybe we as a state can come out healthy and stronger with all of our loved ones still alive and well. I’m officially halfway through my 21-day stretch, I’m still healthy but a little tired and grateful for the opportunity to serve and help.
How amazing and how proud we are of all those sacrificing and serving in NYC. Thank you Emily for your hard work and representing the Commonwealth.