Dayton-area woman joins New York’s fight against coronavirus

A Dayton-area registered nurse ended her first shift at a hospital in the center of America’s coronavirus epidemic with lines and visible strain on her face.

"The absolute worst part, besides the death ... wearing this damn mask for 13 hours straight," Clayton's Staci Hedke wrote as part of an Instagram post. "Try working while feeling suffocated all night. It was rough, but I can do 20 more."

Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

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Hedke, a 2002 Wright State University graduate, began a three-week stint at the Metropolitan Hospital Center in East Harlem, N.Y., at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Her shift ended at 7 a.m.

Before the shift, the gymnastics coach for Northmont High School told this news organization that she prayed about signing on for the assignment with Krucial Staffing.

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“I was told that many nurses call a thousand times or more to get through because the agency didn’t have the manpower to answer phones at this capacity, so it was really hard to get through,” she said in a Facebook Messenger exchange while on a bus from her hotel to the hospital. “I just asked God to make it easy for me so that I knew it was meant to be and I just got through pretty quick.”

Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

The state of New York is the nation’s hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

It recorded 4,758 deaths Monday, up 599 from 4,159 on Sunday morning, according to the New York Times. 

There were 130,689 confirmed cases in the state and 72,181 in the city, the newspaper reports.

Hedke, a Northmont grad, said her employer, Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, is supportive of her decision to help in New York.

So is her family.

“My kids are doing good,” the married mother of sons ages 16, 12, 7 and 6 said. “They are with their dad and my family is very supportive, which isn’t the case with many of these nurses.”

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In one of several Facebook post about the experience, Hedke, also a photographer, said it took three hours before she was checked into her hotel after arriving Friday.

The hotel is full of medical staff, she told us.

“There are probably around 600 registered nurses and I’m not sure how many respiratory therapists and nurse practitioners in the same hotel I am in, and there are many, many more and hotels all over New York City,” Hedke said. “The city is pretty vacant, but everyone is very kind and thankful for us coming to help.”

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Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

If she is not sickened by the disease, Hedke said she will self-quarantine at home for two weeks. If she shows signs of the virus, she will quarantine in New York.

Her hope is to use what she learns to help in Ohio.

“It makes sense because after I come home I’ll have a lot of valuable information to give once Ohio’s cases peak,” she wrote.

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This news organization plans to update this story.

Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

Credit: Staci Hedke

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