UPDATE: Local nurse helping with COVID-19 response in New York
While the instinct for many is to get away from where it's most dangerous, a local nurse says her gut drove her to go to where COVID-19 is hitting the country hardest.
WSAZ first talked with Proctorville resident and CAMC nurse Chandler Fulks in April before she left for her assignment.
Since April 23, the Fairland High School and OU Southern graduate has been working at Columbia Presbyterian in New York City.
"The first week I got there, it was insane," she said, "codes and intubations left and right."
Fulks has spent hour after hour treating COVID-19 patients.
"You're terrified to take it home," she said. "You're terrified to get sick because you see the terrible things happening with everyone that has this."
One problem she's had to deal with she hadn't thought about is many of her patients don't speak English.
"The hardest part is the language barrier," she said. "A lot of people speak Spanish."
Fulks says she's studying Spanish on Babbel when she's not at the hospital to try to be able to better communicate with some of her patients.
Fulks says a month in, things have clearly improved.
"Half the units are going back to normal," she said.
Fulks says they are bracing for a second wave.
"When that second wave hits, we know what to do this time," she said. "We're better prepared."
Despite it being such a stressful and challenging experience, Fulks says she's grateful she's where she's at.
"This is the best decision I've ever made honestly," she said. "A lot of people have been so, so grateful. The nurses and staff are grateful for the help."
When Fulks completes her assignment on June 13, she won't be allowed to go back to her home in Proctorville with her parents for a couple weeks as a safety precaution. She says she'll be going on a camping trip with a friend she met in New York.
During this pandemic, we've seen cases of so many people finding ways to help others in need.
Fairland High School graduate Chandler Fulks got a degreee from OU Southern in 2018 and has been at CAMC for six months after a brief stint at St. Mary's Medical Center.
She says she saw a Facebook post about a nurse taking a travel assignment to New York, and she said it was the most grueling, traumatic experience she'd ever endured. Fulks says she knew right away after seeing that post she wanted to help carry the burden of this horrible pandemic.
She's accepted an eight-week assignment at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
"When I told my mother, she got really emotional and said it definitely was the type of person I was," Fulks said.
Fulks says she's absolutely terrified, but says she knows it's where God wants her to be, "either to help save lives or to be able to hold someone's hand as they take their last breath."
"If it were me and it were happening here in my city, the numbers and just the exhaustion all those nurses are going through, I know I'd want as many nurses to come help us," Fulks said, "because if I would expect that, I'd think they would expect the same from me. I just want to give everyone that same courtesy."
Fulks leaves for the assignment April 19 and hopes to be able to come home by June 13.