DES MOINES, Iowa – One Des Moines Area Community College professor returns back to Iowa following 21 days working on the frontlines as a nurse in New York City.
St. Charles Resident Nicole Nichols is a registered nurse and said she didn’t think twice when she heard nurses were needed in New York City to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nursing is a calling and if you uphold the oath that you took you go where you’re needed,” Nichols said.
On April 12th, Nichols birthday, she boarded a plane to work with 400 other nurses from across the country for 21 days.
“The very first day that we were allowed to open we had eight stretchers on top of each other. No report from the hospitals or the facilities they were coming from. They didn’t have any kind of medication on them,” Nichols said.
Nichols worked 19 straight 12-hour shifts at New York City’s Roosevelt Island Medical Center, which was located in the Coler Rehabilitation Facility.
Nichols said she was assigned a patient that ended beating the virus.
“We bonded very quickly because he was very critical when I first got him and to be able to see him home. He was also the first patient that the facility in itself was able to discharge to the hotel program,” Nichols said.
While in New York City she kept a virtual journal on her Facebook. Friends, family and community members reached out to show their support.
Nichols said a stranger from Norwalk sent her a letter that she has kept to this day.
The letter reads: “Thank you for still going to work even in this hard time. Thank you for helping out in your community. Thank you for not only helping out but for risking your health to fly to New York to help people there. Remember you are special.”
“The day I got it was probably my absolute worst day of my 21 and I needed that boost,” Nichols said.
Nichols was tested before flying back to Iowa and the results are negative. She plans to still self-quarantine for the recommended 14 days.
“It’s not pretty. It’s not anything you want anyone to go through. It’s here. Is it as ugly as other states? I don’t know because I haven’t seen it in Iowa, but I’ve seen COVID and it doesn’t hold back,” Nichols said.
In addition to being a nurse, Nichols is also a teacher at Des Moines Area Community Collage and used her free time while in New York to grade papers and stay in touch with her students.