(WKBN) – Many of us answered the call to stay home, but Sarah Figueroa answered a different call on the frontlines of COVID-19 in New York City.
“I was just sitting at home and I felt like I could be used somewhere else,” said Figueroa.
The Lowellville native graduated from Poland High School in 2013.
She is now a per diem intensive care nurse at Summa Akron City Hospital.
Over a month ago, Figueroa was not longer needed in Akron, so she applied to be a traveling nurse and was assigned to the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn for four weeks.
“My first day there, I was completely shocked. Having been an ICU nurse here, I still had no idea what they were facing out there,” Figueroa said.
She says the hospital was chaotic, and she had two days of orientation before she was working 12 hour shifts.
“I had my first shift. I left and called my friend and I was explaining to her everything that was going on and I didn’t even realize, she was like, are you crying? And I didn’t realize that I had started crying because I was sad or because it was so overwhelming because you don’t have time during the day to sit down and process anything. It’s just go, go, go,” Figueroa said.
Inside the hospital, Figueroa says they were low on many necessities, like PPE, different medicines and physical space.
“I had asked, you know, one of the–my unit manager. I asked her a question about if I needed an order for something in all the chaos. Everybody is running around and I kinda just grabbed her and asked her a question real quick. And she just looked at me and was like, you do whatever you have to do to keep your patients alive,” Figueroa said.
She is now at home in Akron, still trying to process the experience and all the lessons she is taking from it.
“If there’s really one thing I learned through all of this it’s how fragile life is,” Figueroa said. “No one is promised tomorrow. You don’t know. No one planned for this, so reach out to your loved ones, stay connected and also be respectful and be sensitive because your reality might be very different than someone else’s reality.”