Traveling Registered Nurse Sarah Shields returned to Montana after spending 37 days caring for patients with COVID-19 in a New York City Hospital. She will face a strict quarantine before returning to work at St. Vincent Healthcare Hospital.
Shields said, "One of the scariest moments for me was Day 1 getting off the elevator. I walk in and everyone is in this full gear. You can't see anything but eyes. Machines are going off like crazy. Everyone's yelling. Stretchers are stacked on top of stretchers. Rooms that should only have one stretcher could possibly have three stretchers. Every room had a sign on the outside that said, "positive." But, we didn't have time to process anything. You just had to hit the floor running."
Shields said being in the New York City hospital was like something out of a movie.
She said, "One of the charge nurses for where I was, she said that at one point she literally stood there and wondered if it was the end of the world because the things that were happening you could just never imagine."
Shields said, "I would like to think that I didn't take too much for granted prior, but I saw firsthand how quickly some people's lives can change."
She said she cried probably three times a day while she was there, the most she's ever cried in her life.
Would she do it again?
"Absolutely." she said.
She added, "One thing that will probably impact me the most for the rest of my life, there were several times that I knew my patient was passing. You felt like it was your obligation to pause and call the family and let them know they are passing. Hearing the conversation between two people at the very last moment when you know it's the last time you are going to be able to speak. I heard some of the most incredible things. I learned how important it is to forgive, how important it is to love and how important it is to let go of the things that don't matter."