VCU nurse works in New York City to help with COVID-19 response

Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 10:57 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A VCU nurse is answering the call for help in New York City as it battles the coronavirus.

Clare Shanley joined a COVID-19 response team that will spend roughly 3-6 weeks in New York, and her video diary is giving some insight into what these brave healthcare workers are dealing with every single day.

"I have to be up and out of my room by 5:40 a.m. in the morning to get on the bus that leaves at 6 a.m,” says Shanley.

Once on the bus, she gets dropped off at a hospital in Queens, where she picks up her personal protective equipment and gets dressed.

“I’m all changed and ready to go. I’ve got my paper scrubs on, hairnet, N-95 mask and then we wear this face shield over to protect it," she said.

Shanley checks in multiple times a day throughout her shift at the hospital.

“So it’s about 4:30 p.m., homestretch. It’s getting to that point in the day where my ears are killing me from my mask, my nose hurts and my feet hurt. Then, I start to make a mental list of things I’ve got to get done before my shift is over. But it’s been a pretty good day; we had a bunch more travel nurses show up on the unit so every day that I come in we see new people and it really does feel like they’re sending in the calvary. So 2 and 1/2 more hours and then we will be out of here on our way home. Hopefully, get a good night’s rest and be back at it tomorrow," says Shanley.

Shanley also gives an update at the end of her shift.

“Shift is over, time to decontaminate, my masks are coming off and you can see that it kind of starts to hurt your face and your ears. Now, I will change into my normal scrub and head out,” said Shanley.

She even goes over what she does once back at the hotel.

"Before I walk in the door the first thing, I do is drop my shoes off here, using sanitizing spray, I drop the rest of my stuff off and I wipe down everything. My phone, my watch, and then I take off my scrubs, and then hop in the shower."

Over the last week or so there’s been a rollercoaster of emotions.

"All four of my patients were intubated, really, really sick and the scary thing is these patients walked into the ER last week through triage and just rapidly decompensated. The staff that works there full-time is exhausted and they have been so wonderful to us. They have gone above and beyond to welcome us and answer our questions. The chief nurse actually teared up when talking to us about how difficult this has been for them so that’s been super humbling,” said Shanley.

But there are moments to smile, like when the ICU got a pair of special musical guests, sharing a donated meal with new friends and seeing reminders all over New York, that there is light at the other side of this horrible tunnel.

And the best part of the day, the resounding “thank you” from some enthusiastic New Yorkers, honoring healthcare workers after a long day.

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