Cedarville nursing alum is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic wherever the need arises

Rachel Hartley standing in front of Schneider Regional Medical Center in the U.S. Virgin Islands. CONTRIBUTED
Rachel Hartley standing in front of Schneider Regional Medical Center in the U.S. Virgin Islands. CONTRIBUTED

Family nurse practitioner is helping treat patients in the Virgin Islands now, will move on to next hot spot soon

A Cedarville University graduate’s mission to help in the fight against the coronavirus began in New York City, later moved to Connecticut and now has landed her in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rachel Hartley, who earned a nursing degree in 2015 and a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner degree in 2020 from Cedarville, is under contract with the Federal Emergency Management Authority, or FEMA, to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

ExploreFollow the green trail to see 3 waterfalls in this Dayton park

FEMA assignments have taken Hartley to New York City; New Haven, Connecticut; and now, Schneider Regional Medical Center in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“The function of my job is the same as it was in New York, where I’m coming in as a contracted nurse to work in the ICU, helping with COVID patients,” Hartley said. “They were seeing a high volume of patients in the hospital and had to convert one of their floors into a COVID floor. They were still recovering from two Category 5 hurricanes that had come through.”

Although there are fewer COVID-19 cases at her post in the USVI than there were when she served at Brooklyn Langone Hospital, bed availability is more scarce, and the medical center is understaffed, Hartley said.

ExploreMary Miller’s restaurant touch reaches all corners of the Miami Valley

Recently, Hartley reported to Cedarville that the situation at her U.S. Virgin Islands hospital was improving, and that the hospital is no longer overwhelmed.

“The big thing is that cruise ships haven’t come back yet, so that’s what everyone is bracing for," Hartley said. "The hospital is short-staffed in general, so even though COVID hospitalizations have slowed down a bit, they still need lots of nursing help.”

Hartley has been living with five other nurses in the USVI, all of whom also served in New York City.

“There’s been discussion about the mental-health effects of battling COVID on health-care workers,” Hartley said. “It’s been good to hear their stories and realize how this has changed us and changed our personalities. I’m thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to love these other nurses and help them process what the year brought.”

Hartley’s current contract has her in the USVI until Thanksgiving, according to a Cedarville University report on her experiences. She plans to head back home to Virginia for the holidays to catch up with family and friends and to be with her husband, Taylor, who was able to visit her in the USVI.

But she’s not done.

"In January, Taylor and I will be off again, most likely to another COVID ICU crisis spot,” Hartley said. “Wherever the Lord leads.”

In Other News