KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There aren’t enough supplies or health care workers to take care of COVID-19 patents in hot spots around the country like New York City. So groups of nurses and doctors from Kansas City are leaving everything at home to help save lives.
Talk to any health care worker, and they’ll say their career was a calling. Always at risk, in this time of COVID-19, these brave souls are risking their lives to save others in the most dangerous places in the country.
“It is exactly like what you are seeing on the news. It’s exactly like that,” nurse practitioner Stacie Kelly said.
She and fellow nurse practitioner Ashley Kush have just entered a war zone. They left Kansas City on Friday to help fight COVID-19 in New York City.
The two joined a group on a plane less than 20 hours after raising their hands to help. Kush left her husband and two boys behind, while Kelly said goodbye to her husband and four children.
“It would be a big lie to tell you that the second I got on that plane I didn’t want to just run back off and get back to Kansas City,” Kush said.
The plane landed in a state that has 700-plus deaths per day from COVID-19.
“I’m not scared of getting sick. I’m not scared of being tired. I’m not scared of working,” Kelly said. “I’m scared of my very first minute walking into wherever I’m going and seeing what it’s truly like with my own eyes.”
Kelly and Kush have been in health care for well over a decade and are just beginning their journey in New York that could last 3-6 weeks or longer.
Staying in a hotel with other health care workers from across the country, they’ve been swapping stories with colleagues about what is to come.
“We had a nurse that day who in a 12-hour shift took care of 34 COVID patients and had 100% fatality rate for the day,” Kush said of one colleague. “100% of his patients passed away.”
What can be seen from the outside of the hospital paints a grim picture about what is going on inside.
“There are semi’s that are there to serve as morgues to take bodies to,” Kelly said of the refrigerated trucks, engines humming all day and all night.
The medical professionals call it body piling. The number of people who have died is shocking, but so is the toll COVID-19 is taking on front line workers.
“You can just see it in their faces,” Kush said. “They’re emotionally drained, physically and emotionally.”
After their tour, Kelly and Kush will be experts on emergency treatment for COVID-19 and will share what they learn in the trenches to fight the growing number of cases at home.
“This is what could happen in Kansas City or in the Midwest or any city for that matter if we don’t take appropriate measures now,” Kush warns.
Both Kelly and Kush echo other medical professionals in their belief that disaster is heading our way because we aren’t doing enough to prevent what’s going on in New York from happening here.