As It Happens

This Maryland nurse is joining N.Y.'s COVID-19 front lines 'for the greater good'

More than 1,900 people have died from COVID-19 in New York state, a number Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls "staggering."

Bailey Suh says she fully expects to contract the coronavirus — it's only 'a matter of when'

Bailey Suh is a critical care nurse from Maryland who is heading to New York to help overworked health-care staff treat COVID-19 patients (Submitted by Bailey Suh )
Listen6:45

Transcript

The people of New York are in desperate need of help. And, more than anything, they need doctors and nurses.

More than 1,900 people have died from COVID-19 in New York state, a number Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls "staggering."

Cuomo is pleading for support, saying New York needs a million more health-care workers to cope with the worsening outbreak. 

"I am asking health-care professionals across the country: If you don't have a health-care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now," he said Tuesday. 

Bailey Suh, a critical care nurse in Maryland, is answering that call. Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

What was it like for you to hear Cuomo speak in that way?

They really need help and it really made me feel like this is the right thing for me to do. Everything is going on there. The numbers just keep going up day by day. 

I've always been a person, as many other health-care providers are, who want to do the best to help others, and that's really what's appealing to me.

I also grew up in a military family where my dad was constantly going overseas and I never understood why he would put himself in that danger. It's becoming more clear to me now because I'm about to go do the same thing.

You have to realize that sometimes you have to do these things and it's for the greater good.

Even as a U.S. navy hospital carrying 1,000 beds sails into New York City, the state pleads for more health-care workers and relief as hospitals are overrun with COVID-19 cases and deaths. 2:02

You mentioned putting yourself in danger. And that's certainly what you might be doing there. What do you think you will encounter when you go to New York to do this job?    

I've been keeping up with the media and I have a few friends who work in New York at this time and they've told me that there is a lot going on. 

There are a lot of sick people, there are a lot of intubated people, there are a lot of life-and-death decisions to be made. So I'm preparing myself to go into that kind of environment. 

I know that I'm putting myself in harm's way and I think a lot of other people know that as well, but we need to help these people.- Bailey Suh, critical care nurse

Do you feel prepared for that? 

Honestly, I don't feel completely prepared for it. I don't think you can ever really be prepared for those kinds of decisions.

But I know that they're coming. And I know that, in the moment, I'm going to do the best I can. I know everyone else on the team is doing the best they can.

We've heard that anyone who goes is guaranteed they will have the personal protection equipment they need. Do you have confidence in that?  

That's a hard question. I've been told that there is the correct equipment. However, what I've heard from colleagues and seen in the media is that there is not the correct equipment.

I will still go regardless. I know that I'm putting myself in harm's way and I think a lot of other people know that as well, but we need to help these people. 

Medical personnel talk to chaplains as they tour the Samaritan's Purse 68 bed emergency field hospital especially equipped with a respiratory unit in New York's Central Park on Tuesday, one of several makeshift medical facilities cropping up around the U.S. (Mary Altaffer/The Associated Press)

So you anticipate that you could quite likely get the virus? 

Yes. Even before I went, I told my parents, I told my husband [that] I don't think it's if I'll contract it; it's a matter of when. 

Honestly, you can never be for sure that you are going to be the one that comes down with something similar to a simple cold, or if you are going to be the one who, unfortunately, passes away. 

But I think if I were to just sit on the sidelines and not do anything to help, I would just have a lot of guilt and regret. 

Do you think there'll be others like you who answered the call of Gov. Cuomo? 

I believe he said there are even 76,000 people who have volunteered their time. I think that health-care providers are very generous people. 

I think a lot of people want to get involved, it's just figuring out how to get involved, which seems to be the big issue.


Written by Adam Jacobson. Produced by Kate Swoger. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

 

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