PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — A local Pflugerville nurse has been working on the front-lines of the coronavirus for over 21 days now.
Teresa Jane Jimenez is a per-diem employee at a Georgetown hospital. Jimenez doesn’t have set hours, meaning she has the flexibility to pickup and go when a disaster hits.
“Governor Cuomo on his daily briefing was begging for healthcare workers to come,” said Jimenez. “I felt guilty being at home. I like to travel, I like doing disaster travel and I’ve done hurricane relief before.”
The COVID-19 outbreak in particular has been the toughest disaster she’s ever assisted with.
“I’ll hear on the overhead: Attention, attention, rapid response team. You know a patient is going down,” said Jimenez. “We do have refrigerated trucks in the back of the hospital, they’re makeshift morgues.”
The overall experience has been reviving, knowing she’s selflessly giving up her own safety for the world around her, but it’s also looked extremely bleak at times.
“It’s kind of surreal. You’re living out of a hotel, trying to scrounge up healthy food,” said Jimenez. “It’s a New York I’ve never seen. The nurses here have seen more death than they’ve ever seen in their nursing careers.”
Jimenez is working as a postpartum nursing inside the Jacobi Medical Center inside the Bronx. She explains the Bronx as a minority area, full of vulnerable patients. Working as a postpartum nurse generally constitutes life, but its a juxtaposition hearing over the intercom that a patient is going down.
“It’s traumatizing. Our company has arranged for 24 hour crisis counselors,” said Jimenez.
During one of her 21 days of working, she noticed on the grease board that three out of the five new mothers were COVID-19 positive. The way she’s use to nursing has changed too with restricted hospital visitation, and layers of personal protective gear.
“Even on the postpartum unit, the father can be in while the mother is giving labor to see the baby, but as soon as they come to our side he has to go home,” said Jimenez. “He doesn’t see them again until they are being discharged a couple days later. Its just what we have to do to stop the spread.”
As Texas begins the process of opening its economy Friday, she has a message for her loved ones back home.
“I think a lot of people back home, they don’t realize.. It’s never going to be New York. Here people are like sardines, but its still possible that’ it’ll spread,” said Jimenez.
Jimenez has signed on for another 3 weeks working inside the Jacobi Medical Center, which is subject to another extension.