Diana Torres, a nurse at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan, has been caring for patients sickened by coronavirus.
The pandemic has infected over 100,000 people in New York state.
Torres told Business Insider she's moved into her home's attic to avoid exposing her family when she comes home after shifts.
Healthcare workers at hospitals in New York have said for weeks that there's been a shortage of personal protective equipment, like masks and gowns.
Some healthcare workers on the front lines, including one of Torres' coworkers, have already gotten sick and died from the virus
Diana Torres does not feel safe going into work.
As a registered nurse at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan, Torres is one of the many healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The disease has sickened more than 100,000 people in New York state in recent weeks.
Healthcare workers at hospitals in New York have said for weeks that they're facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and gowns, which are essential in keeping healthcare workers from getting sick and passing along the disease to patients.
According to Torres, PPE was limited for her and her colleagues until last week, when they were given one gown, one N95 mask, and one face shield per shift. This week, she said, they've been allowed to change gear between interactions with infected patients.
Some healthcare workers have already gotten sick and died from the virus. One of them is a coworker of Torres': Kious Kelly, a nurse manager at the hospital, died from the virus last week, marking the first New York City nurse to die from the virus.
"They're going to kill us because they failed to protect us the proper way," Torres said. "Because they failed to acknowledge we had a problem and that we were going to have a bigger problem if we didn't prepare."
"That's exactly what happened," Torres said. "That's exactly where we are."
<bi-shortcode id="data-live-ticker" class="mceNonEditable">DataTicker - Covid 19 Global and US</bi-shortcode>
A spokesperson for Mount Sinai Health System told Business Insider in an emailed statement that the hospital is working to get equipment for staff.
"We are all here to save and protect lives and, for us, that starts with the men and women who are so bravely working on the frontlines during this pandemic," the statement read. "Keeping our staff and patients safe is our absolute number one mission right now and, in addition to the resources provided by the City, State and federal government, we are continuing to move heaven and earth to ensure our healthcare staff have access to proper PPE. We understand the fear and concerns and we will continue to do everything possible to protect our heroes on the frontlines. We will not stop until this crisis is over."
'I don't care where I sleep'
Torres has moved into her home's attic to avoid exposing her family when she gets off work, isolating herself from her husband and three children. She has two daughters, ages 14 and 7, and a nine-year-old son.
"I'm lucky to have an attic that has a bathroom, it's a multifamily house," Torres said. "So my husband's staying on the first floor with my kids, my mother-in-law stays on the second floor by herself and then I'm in the attic by myself."
"I don't care where I sleep or how I sleep, how much space I have," Torres said "I never needed money or luxury and now less than ever. We come from humble beginnings, but I just need to be with my family wherever that may be and I can't."
Torres is one of several healthcare workers in New York City to be vocal about work conditions.
She said she decided to talk to the media because she felt unprotected and because she saw patients and colleagues getting sick.
"That was my breaking point," Torres said. "That was the end for me because I feel at that point that there was nothing for me to lose."
"They already put us all at risk so getting fired might just save my life," she continued.
Days at work look very different for Torres now than they did before.
Torres said she's been at Mount Sinai West for the past five years and specializes in rehab, but floats through some other units as well, like the orthopedic or oncology units. That means she usually deals with patients who are pretty medically stable.
Since the coronavirus hit New York, though, Torres said that she's been dealing with a lot of patients who either have the coronavirus or have been exposed to the virus and can't freely go in and out of certain units in the hospital because that would mean contaminating other areas in the building.
"You have to maximize your time much more than before. You have to prioritize much more than we did before," Torres said. "It's preparing everything before we walk into those doors, making sure I have everything with me."
'They said they had it all under control, they were going to take care of it'
Torres told Business Insider that she tried to raise concerns about how seriously the virus could potentially hit New York weeks ago, but she said her concerns were disregarded by management at her hospital, who she says did not prepare enough for the pandemic.
"I started sounding the alarm a while ago when this was still in China and they were just shutting down Wuhan and they said I was causing hysteria, that I was absolutely spreading rumors and making matters worse," Torres said. "They said they had it all under control, they were going to take care of it."
Read the original article on Business Insider