PHOENIX - Two Valley nurses are back in town, after spending four weeks on the front lines at a hospital in New York City, which has been badly affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, FOX 10's Stephanie Olmo spoke with nurses Jen Hunter and Megan Wolcott on why they decided to head into the coronavirus hotspot, and what it was like there.
"This is one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever done," said Hunter.
"We experienced something together that nobody else would really understand, because we were in the unit that wasn’t functioning prior to COVID," said Wolcott. "It wasn’t the hospital's fault. It was just the circumstances."
Both Hunter and Wolcott left on Easter Sunday. The following four weeks would be some of the toughest weeks they would go through in their careers. They say the hardest part was seeing patients separated from their families.
"That made it difficult for us emotionally, because you want to be there for your patients as much as possible, but we know it’s not the same as having like your sister or mom or dad being at the bedside with you, holding your hand while you’re incredibly ill. So, we did the best that we could, being there with them,” said Hunter.
Being on the frontlines is no easy task, but Hunter and Wolcott leaned on each other to get through.
"Megan was seriously my support system. Like, anytime I had trouble or I was feeling really emotional, I would go with her and talk. I feel like we really kept each other going, help motivate each other, we encouraged each other,” said Hunter.
Hunter and Wolcott returned to Arizona on Monday, and they are happy to be back.
"I haven’t been able to process it yet, so I’m glad that we have a two-week quarantine and kind of and slow down and wrap our head around all of it," said Wolcott.
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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
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