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'That’s what you do as a nurse. Our job is to help people'

An Atlanta nurse who went to New York to help in the fight against COVID-19 shares the ups and downs of her time on the front lines.

ATLANTA — As National Nurses Week wraps up, we're continuing to focus on the vital role nurses play in the health care system.

This year, the week took on special meaning at a time when these modern heroes are on the front lines of the pandemic, meeting the gravity of the illness head-on every day.

“Everybody thinks of this coronavirus and they’re talking about it so negatively, but to see those little spots of hope and happiness through it all really give me as a nurse a lot of reassurance,” said Samantha Sansone.

Sansone is one of thousands of nurses who traveled to New York to help combat COVID-19. She flew from Atlanta, to spend two months in the hardest hit state in the country.

She shared shimmers of hope, as well as darker times during her long hours through a series of video diaries.

RELATED: Georgia nurse working in New York describes hard days: It’s not normal for people to drop like flies

Credit: WXIA

In one of her entries, Sansone describes an elderly patient who got to speak to his wife over FaceTime. She said it’s hard to see so many people separated from their loved ones during this time.

“I left the iPad propped up, and about an hour later, I thought I should go get the tablet because I’m sure their conversation is over,” said Sansone, “Sure enough he was asleep. I go in there and get the tablet, and his wife was still on the phone just watching him sleep. You could tell it just meant so much to her to have that time with him, even if he was sleeping.

There is a chalk board at the hospital where they celebrate the number of discharged COVID-19 patients. Sansone describes the joy felt when a patient recovers.

“We just got to discharge a patient home, and everybody clapped for her while she left,” said Sansone, “There’s just a little bit of happiness in all this craziness.”

RELATED: Four Georgia medical professionals get a big surprise from their favorite sports team

Credit: WXIA

Despite the moments of hope, the tolls of the job continues to impact Sansone.

“This job is a lot more mentally draining than where I’m usually at,” explained Sansone.

She had a patient who was not only battling COVID-19, but also had cellulitis in her leg. Sansone says she was in pain.

“I’m thinking, ‘I can’t do anything to automatically fix this for you!’ And I hate that,” said Sansone.

Health care workers nationwide have shared the multiple layers of emotions they are experiencing during this pandemic. For Sansone, volunteering in New York’s hospitals means leaving behind her fiancé and dog, Cooper.

RELATED: 'You aren’t alone in this' | Crisis hotlines need volunteers to help in extremely high COVID-19 call volume

“I miss home so much, it hurts,” she said, “I have the countdown on my phone, because I can’t wait to be back with them.”

Last week, we posted Samantha’s photo on Facebook at the start of National Nurses Week. It was liked by thousands and hundreds sent their love in the comments. When she saw the response to her photo, Sansone said feeling the love and support by people she does not know was awesome.

“You know, I’m just doing what God brought me to do. And I’m just one of many nurses who are here, putting themselves on the front lines at a time of need. That’s what you do as a nurse. Our job is to help people,” said Sansone.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.  

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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