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Trina Johnson, a registered nurse who primarily works in Sanpete Valley hospital, recently volunteered to assist in New York City.
“I went to New York because I felt compelled to serve the people there. It’s hard to just watch people struggling when you believe you can help,” Johnson said, “Being a nurse gives you a strong desire to help people. You want to help even during the most challenging times. I wanted to make a difference.”
Johnson is no stranger to New York, as she has visited it before, though a lot has changed since her last visit due to the pandemic.
“It was an eye-opening experience to be in New York during the pandemic,” Johnson said. “Everything was closed. I was in New York about three years ago and it was drastically different.” “This time there was very little traffic. The streets were quiet. I was standing in the middle of the road in Time Square with no traffic. Once a city filled with traffic and people is now quiet.”
Not only have living conditions and scenery changed, but the operating state for hospitals and its workers have seen drastic alterations as well.
“Prior to Covid-19, we weren’t required to wear masks and eye protection our entire shift,” Johnson said. “While working in New York I wore an N95 mask and eye protection my entire shift. I only took it off to eat or drink in the break room. We only wore masks when we suspected a person was infectious…since I wasn’t sure if patients were positive for Covid-19 or negative for Covid-19, I treated everyone as if he/she was positive.”
Not only were working conditions different for medical workers, but as well as other essential workers and stores; reflecting the devastation and changes that COVID-19 has sprung upon us.
“I really came to understand how devastating the virus is,” Johnson said. “People in New York take the threat of the virus seriously. The few essential stores that were opened had strict social distancing measures.” “The workers would sanitize the shopping carts when you were finished shopping. You weren’t allowed in the store without a face covering. The desolate streets and shopping centers were a reminder of the reality of Covid-19.”
Johnson not only has seen a change in the establishments around her but as well as her own actions.
“While working in New York I had the chance to experience the epicenter of the pandemic. I found that while in New York I always wore my personal protective equipment (PPE) and was extra vigilant in washing my hands,” Johnson said.
Additionally, Johnson sees differences in the attitude and reaction of those living in Utah versus New York.
“The main difference I see [between Utah and New York] is the reaction of the people. Everyone in New York wears a mask. Even when you are outside, you wear a mask,” Johnson said. “All the stores and shops in New York were closed. I noticed stores with Easter decorations still in their windows. Indicating that the stores have been closed for quite some time.”
Being a part of the fight of COVID-19 has impacted everyone involved in many ways including noticing the strength of others.
“[The most impactful thing I’ve experienced is] How resilient the nurses were. Even though the nurses had experienced an overwhelming amount of tragedy they still remained cheerful, happy, and optimistic. They still had hope for the future.” Johnson said.
Johnson and the other resilient nurses have seen the challenges and conflicts that come with a novel pandemic.
“In the beginning, it was overwhelming because the virus was a novel virus. There wasn’t a lot known about it. Our workflow was constantly changing. Now that more is known and things are starting to slow down, I find it less overwhelming.” Johnson said.
Though overwhelming she and the other nurses have stuck through it all helping those in need.
“My motivation is to continue to help people. I have an opportunity to help the people in our community when it is needed most. We feel good when we can help someone. Working is my way of helping.” Johnson said.
Though it has been challenging Johnson says that there are things that prove to be an even greater hurdle to jump.
“I am a mother of five kids. I went to New York for two weeks and left my husband and kids home. It was a lot easier to work than staying home with five kids!” Johnson said. “Being a mother and a nurse helps me to understand the importance of keeping myself and my kids safe and healthy.”
Keeping herself and her family healthy is of great priority to Johnson and she feels many don’t understand its importance as well.
“I feel a lot of people don’t understand how the virus is spread and the importance of washing your hands,” Johnson said.
Staying healthy especially during a pandemic is a balance of both physical and mental health, and Johnson expresses the importance of both in her life.
“Staying physically and mentally healthy is so important. My advice would be to still find a way to do the things you enjoy and get some exercise! The gym I attend was closed but I would attend an online zoom class or do my own home workout,” Johnson said, “After a long shift in the ED in New York, I would walk the two miles home with a friend. It was a great way to decompress after a long night. I also like to run. Running for me releases stress and helps me to cope with the stress of uncertainty during these changing and challenging times.”
Johnson works hard to make her impact in the COVID-19 pandemic through helping others, staying healthy, as well as maintaining a positive attitude.
“I have mostly tried to stay positive and optimistic. Going through a pandemic is something I have never experienced,” Johnson said.
Living and working through a pandemic is no easy feat that like Johnson we have never experienced before, but she believes together we can make a difference.
“We all need to do our part by staying home if we are sick, washing our hands, and using extra caution around the population most vulnerable to Covid-19,” Johnson said.
Johnson particularly recommends one piece of advice.
“Wash your hands! Together we can get through this,” Johnson said.