A Kentucky nurse is at the epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak. More than 15,000 patients in New York City alone are overwhelming hospitals and creating the need for more frontline workers.
Jataun Isenhower is a nurse at the Medical Center in Bowling Green. She left her job and family behind to work at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens for at least three weeks.
"We talked about the risk, and I said if I worked in Bowling Green, Louisville, or Nashville, I would be exposed to the same thing," Isenhower said in an interview with WKU Public Radio. "The difference is, I'd be bringing it home to you guys everyday, so this seemed like a better option for the family overall."
Isenhower is treating COVID-19 patients in the ICU where she has to properly suit up with a cap, eye goggles, a face shield, an N95 mask, a gown, two sets of gloves, and shoe covers. While she says there is enough personal protective equipment, or PPE, ventilators are still scarce.
"If we weren’t in a pandemic, we would give them more time to wean off the ventilator, but we’re trying to push them to get to a place where we can take them off the ventilator and put someone else on," explained Isenhower.
She says emergency rooms are expecially inundated and she was told that, at one point, there were two nurses for very 26 patients, but those ratios have improved as hospitals have added additional staff.
Isenhower is among several hundred nurses from all over the country working at more than 20 hospitals across New York City. She's been struck by the show of appreciation by the police and fire departments, which line the streets, and cheer for them at the end of their shifts.
"When we're walking in or out of the building, members of the community are saying thank you for being here. I feel like it's been a great experience," said Isenhower. "They really appreciate the care and assistance, and they really want us to come back to their city when it's in a better place."