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SWFL nurse returns from responding to COVID-19 in New York

A Southwest Florida nurse who was helping those on the front lines of the coronavirus in New York has returned home.

Naples Nurse Taylor Olson volunteered to help patients battling COVID-19 up north. With Florida becoming an epicenter of the pandemic, Olson is back in our region to respond.

We spoke to Olson about the surge in reported cases in Florida Friday as well as her experience in New York.

“So it was very eerie to like be out in the city and just no one is around,” Olson said. “Times Square was completely empty.”

Olson’s trip to New York was no vacation.

“Picture your worst day you’ve ever had at work, and they’re like, ‘OK, you got it?’ Times that by 10,” Olson said. “They’re like, ‘OK, you got that now?’ And then do that for 15 hours straight, and that’s what you’re about to be doing.”

What Olson did is travel 1,300 miles from Naples to the Bronx in New York. She chose to go help coronavirus patients.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Olson said. “Like you don’t get this opportunity ever, to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than yourself.”

Olson returned to Naples last week after 70 grueling days up north.

“We had had the same patients for three or four weeks, and they were on the max oxygen that we could give them,” Olson said. “We were turning them; we were proning them, putting them on their bellies so they could breathe better. We worked our butts off to make sure that they didn’t have to get intubated.”

And Olson did more than medical work, helping families say goodbye to the sickest of patients over FaceTime.

“It was heartbreaking to listen to these, whether it was husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children and grandchildren saying goodbye,” Olson said. “You could just like hear the desperation in their voice … and it was just like my job was to just stand there and hold an iPad … That was all I could do for them.”

Now, Olson hopes the sorrow and chaos she experienced in New York didn’t follow her. While she hopes she won’t have to, she says she is ready to return to the front lines.

“If people could just see one day of what I saw I feel, like, everyone’s attitude toward it would change,” Olson said.

Author: Rachel Cox-Rosen, WINK News
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