Eau Claire nurse returns from treating COVID-19 patients in New York

Published: May. 18, 2020 at 7:38 PM CDT
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When Tina Adams heard crisis nurses were needed in New York to help with the COVID-19 outbreak, she talked to her husband and hopped on a plane.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do," Adams says. “"It was pretty scary and I guess my nurse brain just kicked in and was like you know these people need taken care of."

Adams works as a nurse educator for Senior Housing Management in Eau Claire. On April 7, she took a leave of absence from her job and headed to New York to work at Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island, treating patients in long term acute care.

Adams stayed in a hotel with other nurses who traveled to New York to help from all around the country. She says each day they got on the bus at 6:15 a.m. and worked until 7:00 p.m.

Adams describes the conditions at the hospital as “heartbreaking.”

“It was a very old building. The patients were in rough condition,” Adams says. "There were about six patients per room and they are divided by curtains so if one person was COVID they presumed everyone would be and slowly a lot of the people in each of those rooms became positive."

As of May 18, New York has nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and about 28,000 people have died from the virus according to data from the CDC.

“"The residents were very scared. There was one patient that was in a room for quite some time coughing and one of the patients every day was stressing out about it because he was like ‘he is coughing, he is gonna get me sick and get everyone else sick’," Adams recalls.

Adams says she faced challenges like insufficient personal protective equipment.

"We had a N95 that we wore for five days and then after the five days we could request a new one. We usually didn’t have any head coverings, shoe coverings, the gowns were limited. A lot of times we had to wear one gown all day," Adams says.

She says one day, the nurses were told there were no N95 masks available until the agency she was working for stepped in to make sure the nurses were given proper PPE.

“We really had to fight for ourselves and our protections,” Adams says.

Each night, Adams says she returned to her hotel room, put her stuff in a plastic bag and jumped in the shower to try and avoid contamination.

Now Adams is back in Eau Claire. She quarantined for 14 days in a local hotel before returning home safely to her family.