EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – No country in the world, other than the United States, has as many confirmed cases of COVID-19 as the state of New York does.
New York City has become ground zero for the Coronavirus, with almost six thousand fatalities as of Friday. The city’s hospitals need help and an El Paso nurse is answering the call.
“This is the epicenter,” said RN Brandon Aguirre. “This is where everything is happening.
Parkland high school graduate Brandon Aguirre is one of 180 nurses from around the country that arrived in Manhattan this week to provide care to victims of COVID-19 for the next two months.
It’s part of a travel nursing program that typically takes around three months to plan, but Aguirre said this time the process took just two weeks.
“I have to commend everyone on how they’re adapting. I think we’re doing a really great job,” said Aguirre.
The 25-year-old works 12-hour, overnight shifts in the ICU at Tisch Hospital in Manhattan. With nearly 100,000 cases in New York City alone, hospitals have to be creative to make room for every patient.
“They converted several floors to COVID-19 ICUs, one of which is where I’m at,” Aguirre said. “We’re using portable ventilators because sometimes that’s all we have.”
As for personal protective equipment, Aguirre and his fellow caregivers are expected to use the same masks for up to a week, an item they typically throw away before seeing each new patient.
“We’re not sure how effective they are after even a day, but this is what we have and this is what we’re having to work with,” Aguirre said.
Though the scenes in the Big Apple are difficult, the El Pasoan is staying positive.
“It’s not a train wreck over here. The city is still surviving, but everyone is still being cautious and wearing masks like they’re supposed to,” Aguirre said.
On the heels of El Paso’s second COVID-19-related death on Friday, Aguirre had a message for his hometown.
“The worst is yet to come, I believe,” Aguirre said. “It can happen in El Paso as well if we don’t take care of ourselves or we don’t distance ourselves.”
Aguirre will live rent free in New York for the next two months while he cares for patients at Tisch Hospital.
In March, 2020, Aguirre relocated to a hospital in San Antonio, but previously worked at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso.