Miranda Florence, a former Georgetown resident, knew she wanted to help those affected by COVID-19 in New York City when she heard how hard they were getting hit with the virus.
She wouldn’t be going alone, however.
Dana Edwards and Taylor Sparks, two friends and fellow emergency room nurses Florence works with, made plans for New York, as well.
“I was nervous and debated the idea for some time,” Florence said. “After praying about it for a good while, I decided that if God wanted me to be here he would provide me with a job offer that I could accept.”
And she got that offer from St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Queens, where she is working in the emergency room, intensive care unit and critical care unit.
“When we arrived here, NYC had just seen its peak,” she said. “We see COVID on a daily basis, much more frequently than in Kentucky but nothing compared to what they were seeing right before we arrived.”
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital lost an ER physician to COVID-19, Florence said. Many of Florence’s coworkers at St. John’s have had the virus and recovered, and many have lost family members.
“We are seeing people on ventilators that aren’t going to recover,” she said. “I’ve sat with patients for an hour so they weren’t alone when they took their last breath, because no visitors are allowed. We see exhausted, traumatized nurses with stories that are truly unbelievable.”
The mental and emotional effect is the hardest part of the job.
“Seeing how sick these patients are and watching them die without family by their side is heartbreaking,” Florence said.
Beds at the hospital have run low, she said. EMS have had to stand in the doorway, while manually ventilating patients, waiting for beds. And bodies have been stacked everywhere.
The health care workers in New York have often told Florence and her friends, ‘we wish you had gotten here sooner,’ she said.
Having her friends and coworkers there with her makes the trip easier, Florence said.
“When I thought about coming to NYC there were mixed emotions,” she said. “I was excited to be able to help but also nervous and somewhat anxious. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. It was hard to leave my family, my home and my job.”
But she says the New Yorkers warmed up to the southern charm.
Days have been good and bad, Florence said. Some of the good days have been receiving the letters, packages, texts and prayers from home.
“We have been sightseeing, exercising and digging deep into our faith,” she said. “Lots of prayers in the car and parking lot.
“Coming here has strengthened our friendship and our bond.”
All of them are counting down the days until they return to Kentucky, Florence said.
Florence, Edwards and Sparks will be working in New York City through June 25.
James Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.