Beloit nurse treating COVID-19 patients in New York shares her experience

Published: Apr. 26, 2020 at 11:28 PM CDT
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A Wisconsin nurse is sharing her experience, working on the front lines in one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots.

Nikki Olson, a Beloit ICU nurse is one of thousands of medical workers who traveled to New York to help fight COVID-19. She says in the three weeks she been there, she’s seen the virus take a lot of lives. “I’ve taken care of numerous people where their whole family has been taken out by COVID,” said Olson.

The pandemic has claimed nearly 17,000 lives in New York State, the majority in its largest city. Sunday health officials announced the number of deaths dropped to 367, the lowest single day increase in total number of deaths in almost a month. The progress made here is largely thanks to healthcare workers like Olson. She says a recruiter called and offered the opportunity, she was nervous to take it but knew the work was important and would be a learning opportunity.

As a mother and experienced nurse, she says the pandemic presents new challenges. “These people are literally dying holding a strangers hand.” She says because of social distancing, many drop their sick loved ones off at the ER, only to get a call weeks later that they’ve died. “New York City is so overwhelmed with dead bodies,” said Olson. She says the pandemic has been so devastating, even funeral homes are struggling to keep up, leaving many family with no peace or closure from a proper funeral.

Olson says the experience has put life into perspective and shared her thoughts on the “Reopen Wisconsin” movement. I can relate to them. I’m a small business owner as well so I get it.” Olson says the government in general could do a better job of getting people unemployment. “But when you put things in a perspective, it saddens me because everything the healthcare system is trying to do they're almost undoing it. I know people are hurting and I hate that but is your life really worth the money,” she said.

Olson plans to return to Beloit in early June, after she’s cleared to safely return home to her family. This could change if there's a second surge of the virus. She says she may also be needed in New Orleans.