RI nurse returns home after 3 weeks working at NYC hospital

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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A nurse from South Kingstown is being praised for her selfless commitment to her patients after volunteering to work at a hospital in New York City, knowing it’s one of the areas hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the nation’s fight against the virus ramped up, Taylor Campbell, 27, welcomed the idea of taking her talents to a hospital in need. She and her boyfriend, who’s a police officer, both talked about the possibility of going to New York to help the first responders working tirelessly in the country’s hotspot.

The opportunity presented itself much sooner than she anticipated. She got word on a Thursday that her best friend from out-of-state was heading to the Big Apple.

“She texted me saying she going to New York, and I was just like, ‘what’s the number? I want to go!'” Campbell recalled. “So I called, thinking they’d say they need me next week. They said, ‘we need you tomorrow.'”

Campbell spent the night making phone calls to her family. Several of her relatives are police officers, which inspired her to take on a role helping others.

Her family knew there were patients that needed her help. By Saturday morning, she was on her way.

Campbell used to work at the emergency room at Rhode Island Hospital, and most recently got her master’s degree in nursing while working per diem at a local hospital.

Campbell knew what can happen behind the curtains but said her time at Metropolitan Hospital was like nothing else in her career.

“It’s really difficult to put all of this into words, it really is,” she said.

Her contract was for 21 days. All but one patient she treated was battling COVID-19.

“There were times where you just sat in the corner and kind of cried for a minute, or sat in anger for a minute, and you just had to get back up to take care of your patients because that’s why you were there,” Campbell added.

When she first arrived, she had to help create an ICU unit.

“When I got there, the hospital was extremely over their normal capacity. They had a floor that wasn’t being used because they simply didn’t have the staff for it,” she said. “They put us on that unit, and we had to create the unit. We became an ICU unit. The only things that were there were the beds.”

As an ER nurse, Campbell said she had to make adjustments to work in the ICU.

Throughout her time, she wrote about her experiences on Facebook.

“They were also therapeutic to be able to write them, but I’ve never gone back and re-read a post,” Campbell said. “I never re-read them before I posted them. That’s something that I want to do in the next couple days, take the time to read all of them.”

Some of her most emotional posts went viral and were met with thousands of comments of gratitude.

Campbell attributed her strength to her family, who sent her support from miles away.

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She said during the intense moments over the three weeks, it was hard to pinpoint the highs and lows. The days were long, and the reality of the disease and its dark impacts forever changed her as a person, and as a nurse.

But one thing she knows for sure: she would do it again if they needed her. 

“I wanted to stay,” Campbell said. “I said I would stay for another two weeks. The hospital turned around and said they didn’t need us, they brought in another group of contract nurses.”

“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” she continued. “I’m thankful for the experience but sad I had to experience it. I’m looking forward to taking a few days to decompress.”

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