TAMPA, Fla. -- Healthcare workers who answered the call to help in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic are now answering a call to help in Florida.
A spokesperson for NuWest, a company that recruits travel nurses, said it’s sending more than 150 to the Tampa Bay area this week.
“I am a nurse and I will go when someone needs that help and I am honored to do so,” said ICU nurse Joshua Lippincott.
Lippincott, who calls California home, said after he was furloughed when the floor of a hospital he worked at was shut down, he went to NYC to help.
“There were many tears. It’s the hardest thing to watch people pass, alone, gasping for air, asking, 'Am I going to die?' Doing everything you can, according to medical practices, to just try to bring about the best intervention possible and unfortunately, just not feeling like you could be able to do enough,” he said. “Then on the flip side, between the different, as we heard proning, which is turning on the stomach, ventilation, weening people off, getting them off the necessary artificial ventilation, we saw people walk out of there.”
When Lippincott heard Florida now needed help, he agreed to help once more.
“I have a skillset that allows me to love others and serve others and again. Why would I not?” he said.
Some nurses answered the call in a matter of days to be at work in Tampa Monday.
“Just something about it kind of just drew me to it. I need to go. Kinda like the same feeling I got when I went to New York. It’s like something I had to do,” said Sam Hatcher, another nurse.
He and John Mrachina are both from the Detroit area. They worked in NYC before answering the call Friday to start work Monday in Tampa.
“Hopefully our experience there will help out here give the team the best shot they can. I feel like Florida’s definitely stepping up trying to get a jump on everything and that’s great, be ready,” said Hatcher.
“I think we know a little bit more than we did in Detroit and New York so I’m hoping there will be more recoveries and we won’t see a lot of terrible things. I’m just looking forward to some positive coming out of this,” said Mrachina.
Meanwhile, the state said it requested 1,500 nurses through FEMA and that it’s securing nurses that can be deployed throughout the state, provided through staffing agencies. Local hospital systems are also taking steps to add more nurses.
“Wear your mask, social distance, take your vitamins, be safe, wash your hands, tell your loved ones you love them,” said Mrachina.
Meanwhile, nurses are reminding people to wear their masks, social distance and wash their hands.
Lippincott puts the measures into the perspective of not finishing a course of antibiotics.
“What ends up happening, we now build a resistance to the antibody. We actually get a worse infection it actually creates a bigger problem,” he said.
That’s why he is urging people to love their neighbors and continue to follow the mitigation measures.
“If we do this very thing, you will get to see the same thing I saw in New York, which is celebration of life. It’s also a joy as we overcome this virus,” he said.