SYLACAUGA Ala.- Sylacauga native Brooke Vandiver is finally home after fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines in New York City.
Vandiver is a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Coosa Valley Medical Center, which has not seen many COVID-19 cases. Because of this, Vandiver wanted to take her skills and apply them in an area that needed it most, New York City.
Eight weeks. That is how long Vandiver was away from her family, working tirelessly on a COVID-19 positive Intensive Care Unit at NYU Langone Hospital. She returned home on Thursday, May 21.
“It was really difficult,” said Vandiver. “When I first got there it was terrible, but it slacked up a little the last three weeks. The admission rates were going down, people were not necessarily getting better but there wasn’t as many people coming into the hospital, so the hospital was able to catch up in a sense.”
When Vandiver arrived in New York, the state had 59,513 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with the majority being in New York City. The death rate was on the rise, so much that refrigerated trucks were brought in to store bodies, as the hospital morgues were at max capacity.
“In the beginning it was so scary because it was so unknown,” said Vandiver. “I had to tell myself okay, I have to go into this room with this person that has the virus, and I could possibly die from this. I could possibly contract the virus and not be able to go home to my family. Standing there outside that room, was like jumping off a diving board into the deep end. You did not know, you had no clue. It was hard for me to break that barrier and just go inside the room without thinking about it, but I got warmed up to it. ”
Imagine being in a city that was running out of the necessities needed to take care of patients, who test positive for the virus. Sounds scary right? Day by day, hour by hour, thousands of patients passed away, after nurses had to make a critical decision on who would get to use the equipment, based on age and underlying health conditions.
“I never thought I would see the day, where we had to choose who lived and who died,” said Vandiver. “When one person died, you could not clean the room fast enough for the next person in line.”
For most people, a trip to New York means shopping and fun, not fighting a pandemic. Those eight long weeks, will be something that Vandiver, along with several other nurses from around the United States, will never forget.
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