Interview: Bronx nurse: 'I'm afraid of becoming ... too ill to care for the patients'

Billie Rama
March 24, 2020 - 1:26 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Nurses are on the front lines of the coronavirus war, and it's taking its toll.

Karine Raymond, a nurse at Montefiore Medical Center Weiler Division in the Bronx, told 1010 WINS on Tuesday that nurses cannot get the supplies they need and have been exposed to patients.

"So many nurses have been exposed so far and we fear we are carriers," Raymond said. 

"I'm sure everyone is aware from all news reports that N95 masks and, in general, personal protective equipment is in short supply and that has meant that nurses at my facility and in the Montefiore facilities across the Bronx and in upper Westchester and home care have not been able to secure the necessary safe equipment to protect both themselves and their colleagues and their patients while caring for our COVID -positive community.

Supplies are being passed out by nursing administration as they see fit, Raymond also said.

"Although they they are following all of the CDC guidelines, we're all aware the CDC guidelines were rolled back because America was ill-prepared to actually take on this pandemic," Raymond said.

"If you're lucky enough to get a N95 mask, the CDC guidelines are that you should use that mask five times and we are instructed to cover the mask with a surgical mask to help to protect and maintain its integrity," Raymond said. "But I'm not sure if the public knows that prior to the CDC guidelines being rolled back, we would only use an N95 mask or a surgical mask once because it was an infection control issue and we didn't want cross-contamination and we wanted to maintain a good feel around the nose and mouth for the healthcare provider and so there was no danger of them picking up the virus in any way shape or form."

When asked what she is afraid of, Raymond said the following:

"I am, with all of my colleagues and all of the physicians that are placed in this unsafe situation, I am afraid of becoming ill. Too ill to care for the patients that I need to be able to care for and too ill -- even more ill -- rendering me unable to function for months."

Raymond said two of her nurse friends have recently become COVID-positive and one of their spouses is also positive. Raymond said the other nurse does not know if her family members are positive.

"So many nurses have been exposed one way or another that many of us believe that we are carriers and we're afraid of passing it on to patients who are not COVID-postitive," Raymond said. "We are afraid of bringing it home to our families, we're afraid of bringing it home and passing it on to our communities."

"We're hoping it will resolve quickly but I'm not so sure about that and many of our nurses are starting to feel the ill-effects of the virus and we may end up with a shortage of nurses and well as masks and personal protective equipment. But we're going to do the best that we can."

There were 25,665 cases of coronavirus statewide as of Tuesday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he expects the apex of coronavirus will hit New York in 14 to 21 days.