ATLANTA — For eight weeks, a nurse with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has worked at a hospital in New York City, helping patients fighting COVID-19.
Saturday, Samantha Sansone returned home.
“At the end of the day," she said, "although I’m so happy to be home, I’m also so grateful that I was able to have this experience.”
Sansone has been providing video diaries throughout her time in New York. At the beginning, she says, “I thought, ‘I’m gonna go into this, work my butt off for two months, and then things will be back to normal.’"
“I need to keep on reminding myself that things are not going to be like they were before the coronavirus – not now, maybe not ever.”
Sansone says she was the final "traveler" on her unit, referring to the many volunteers who arrived from other parts of the country to provide assistance for both patients and staff.
"Ninety percent of the workers on my unit are travelers," Sansone says, "because all of the people where it's their home unit, they're taking some extra time off because they were working so hard before we got there."
Sansone spoke about the camaraderie of the nursing community, particularly at a time few expected.
“There’s people who have been working a bunch of overtime," she recalled, "because they know other people have families. They’re very selfless, very kind people that I’ve met.”
When Sansone started in New York, nearly 50,000 Americans had died from COVID-19. That number has more than doubled.
“I kind of feel selfish," she said. "I get to go home to my family and my life. Some of [the patients] were totally fine until they weren’t. Some of them were in great health, some not so much.”
Sansone has been away from her fiancé, Brendan, and their dog, Cooper, since mid-April. When she got home, Cooper jumped on her endlessly.
Now she's taking two weeks off before heading back to work in Atlanta.
“It’s humbled me and taught me to take every day as a blessing," Sansone said. “I did impact people, and I did impact lives, and people impacted mine."