Local nurse heads to NYC to fight coronavirus: “I needed to do something”

Local Coronavirus Coverage

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) Johns Hopkins University is reporting nearly 400 thousand cases of coronavirus in the United States, with more than 12 thousand deaths.

A majority of those deaths are in the state of New York, the epicenter of America’s outbreak. Yesterday, the state saw it’s deadliest day so far in the pandemic.

Nurses, doctors and hospital staff across the country are on the front lines, protecting their communities from the coronavirus.

When a rule change amid the pandemic allowed nurses to now use their license to practice in any state, one local nurse from Lee County, Virginia knew she needed to take her life-saving skills where they are needed most: New York City.

“There’s just no help whatsoever. My heart has just been aching for these cities,” said Kirsten Flanary.

Flanary, 25, is an ER nurse working most recently at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn. and for Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a travel nurse.

She decided to act when she saw that the need was great outside the state of Tennessee.

“All these big cities are just drowning in this virus. Nurses are exhausted, they’re working long hours, they’re not having days off. Everybody is getting sick,” said Flanary.

She packed her bags and boarded a plane for the first time in her life on Sunday, flying into the front lines of the outbreak. Flanary will work alongside thousands of nurses in New York City, fighting to save lives and slow down the spread of the virus.

“I was a terrified, I was excited. I am ready to make a difference. If I’m able to touch one life here, whether it be a nurse or anyone working in healthcare, or a patient or just inspiring people back home to do good, positive things, I’ll know I’ve made a difference,” said Flanary.

Flanary said it was an eerie sight: going from an empty airport to an empty New York City.

“I’m looking down at Times Square right now and there is maybe one car in the street,” said Flanary on Tuesday afternoon. “Everyone is wearing masks and gloves and social distancing.”

Flanary’s mom, also a nurse, might have thought she was crazy to head to the Big Apple during a pandemic.

“I said I’m going to New York on Sunday! And her response was are you insane? But she has been my biggest support in all of this,” said Flanary.

She says going to New York City was not about publicity, recognition, or money.

“When you start nursing you take an oath. We put our patients first and typically put ourselves last. I felt like I needed to do something.”

She is one of so many fighting to save lives and making sacrifices to stop this pandemic.

“I believe we can get through this,” said Flanary.

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