CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A nurse from Shelby, North Carolina just returned home after serving at a New York City hospital for the last 13 weeks.
Curtis Shade is a registered nurse. He took on a travel nursing crisis assignment in April at New York Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center.
For the last three months he has been working with some of the sickest patients with COVID-19.
“We were averaging about 4 to 6 deaths a night,” Shade said. “And as a nurse, when you’re in New York City, I had no family, no friends, and the streets were desolate.”
When he first arrived in New York, he says other nurses weren’t very welcoming to the travel nurses. He suspects the crisis pay travel nurses were receiving was causing a rift between non-travel nurses who were receiving standard pay.
“We were ostracized, and we were isolated,” Shade said. “We had the worse of the worst patients. But as we went along, they saw that we were there to help because they were overwhelmed when we first got there. The morale was so low.”
He says most floors call for about 12 nurses, but they had about 20 to 25 nurses per floor. The entire hospital was dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.
“I’m a Med-Surge PCU nurse, but when I got there, they did not care what you were. They just cared that you were a nurse,” Shade said. “I worked with nurses that were new grads. I’m not even sure they had taken their boards yet.”
He says the virus was affecting anyone and everyone. Even people who are otherwise strong and healthy.
“Fire chiefs, police officers, football coaches, fathers, husbands that in a regular sense would be strong, but would want to hold my hand at the end because they weren’t able to hold their wives hand or their daughters hand,” Shade said. “That superseded any dollar amount that was given at that time because we knew we would be the last person they would see if they didn’t make it out of that situation.”
Shade returned to the Carolinas on Saturday and proposed to his girlfriend on Sunday.
“Life is short and you can’t take any day for granted,” Shade said. “You have to thank God for every moment because it could be any one of us.”