Local Nurse Traveling To New York To Help Hospitals In COVID-19 Efforts
by James Coulter
Samantha Motis, 27, always wanted to be a nurse when she grew up. She wanted to help people; and yet the recent pandemic has forced her, like many others, to remain at home and sit out the current crisis under lockdown.
So, when she learned that many hospitals in New York City were short on nurses and other medical staff members, she jumped at the opportunity to volunteer her skills to aid the efforts up North.
“I went from being in the hospital every day of the week for 8 to 12 hours a day, talking and treating patients, from that being taken away and not able to do anything,” Samantha said. “It has been hard sitting at home, on the sidelines…sitting around, waiting, knowing that I could be working using my skills helping people and doing what I can to save lives.”
Samantha left Wednesday to travel to New York City. She signed up to volunteer for a month straight of twelve-hour shifts. She does not yet know which hospital she will be working at, but she will be staying until the beginning of May. Afterward, she will return home and remain under quarantine for 14 days.
New York has experienced the most coronavirus cases in the country, with 202,208 confirmed cases and 10,834 deaths, according to figures from Google. Such a surge in overall cases have left state hospitals suffering shortages in medical staff and supplies.
Last month, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called for medical workers across the county to come to his state and volunteer their time and efforts at their hospitals. Since then, more than 90,000 people have heeded the call, as reported by the New York Times. Samantha was one of those many volunteers who responded.
“The nurses up there are struggling, they have a lot of patients, [and] some nurses are getting sick,” she said. “So, at least I will be able to get up there and work for the time being. It is nice to say I had a helping hand.”
Born and raised in Lake Wales, Samantha has been a Registered Nurse since 2015. Her nursing background is in Critical Care where she served as an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) nurse for three and a half years. She soon began attending graduate school to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at the University of South Florida. She is on track to graduate this December.
Since August 2019, Samantha has been in full-time clinical residency to complete her CRNA degree. However, due to the current crisis, many clinical hospitals have temporarily removed students such as her from coming to hospitals. This downtime has left her at home without many ways to help in this crisis, she explained.
Samantha inquired her program director if students such as herself were allowed to take nursing contracts at hospitals like those in New York, since she is a Registered Nurse. When she was informed that they could, she jumped at the opportunity to sign up and volunteer for a nursing crisis contract.
COVID-19 has created a situation unlike any other in recent history, and something the medical community has not treated extensively before. The disease has caused many patients respiratory failure, and it can be highly contagious, especially among many other patients and medical staff, Samantha said.
Having watched news stories about the chaos and trauma permeating New York City hospitals, Samantha knows that she is stepping into a situation unlike any she has experienced before. She knows the work will be trying, and that many necessities, including food and medical supplies, may be scarce; and yet like many other brave souls before, she’s choosing to step forward into these circumstances and do the best that she can.
“It is extremely intimidating,” she said. “I am preparing myself for the worst. I am prepared to encounter some trying situations and possibly death. Hoping I will have a hand in helping prevent that from happening with my background and knowledge. I know from what I have seen, it will be exhausting, trying to remain positive with an open mindset.”
Prior to her trip, she has ensured that she has packed a suitcase full of all the provisions that she will need, including food and toiletries. She does not know how scarce supplies will be up north, so she is preparing as best as she can.
“Obviously, I know this is a crisis. I know the working conditions will not be ideal. I am trying to be as prepared as I can,” she said. “I have the skills and knowledge to where I can go and make a difference and work hard, hopefully to impact these patients for the better.”