38-year-old Tamara Louhis became a nurse five years ago and for the last year and a half has worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Louhis says the devastating part of her job is to see patients die alone.
"I'm a human being and to see patients in a hospital bed who are dying and their family members are not there, there is no one there to hold their hand, that, that human touch, you know, there is no one there for them, they have to talk to their family members through the phone, like we are right now and for people to say goodbye to their family members like that, I can't never imagine in a million years what that feels like," said Louhis.
Louhis emigrated to the United States from Haiti at age 7. As a nurse she feels that is part of her job to care for her patients and to be strong for them, but at times she says, emotions fail.
Cassandra Rigney is an operating room nurse, but when the pandemic hit and she heard about the number of patients arriving to the emergency room at Mount Sinai, she asked to be transferred to the 'floor'.
More than contracting the virus at the hospital while attending patients, Cassandra says being out there riding the subway is where she feels more vulnerable.
"One of the biggest things that freaks me out is going to work in the morning riding the subway. The subway is like, first of all is, not that many people riding the subway like there used to be and it's just filled with homeless people and it's like, oh my God. It's just some subway cars is, just all homeless people in the subway now and I think, you know, if I'm going to a hospital with COVID patients, but I could. It's almost like more of a daring situation riding the subway. Nobody, who's testing them? Who's doing anything with the homeless? I mean, they're not going to go to a doctor if they're experiencing symptoms," said Cassandra, a nurse for four years and a native of New York.
Many have called nurses and first responders the heroes of the pandemic, but for Louhis, it's just the job that she signed up for.
"I don't think of myself as a hero because this is again, this is what I went to school for, this is what I wanted to do. I want to take care of people. I want to make them feel better and to help them out along their journey through life, so, I appreciate it, but I don't feel like a hero."