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Kentucky nurse anesthetists fight COVID-19 pandemic in New York City

Posted at 1:24 PM, Apr 23, 2020

NEW YORK CITY, Ny. (LEX 18) — When healthcare workers hear a call for help, they answer it, no matter where it’s coming from. Several Kentucky certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, prove that, by spending that last few weeks working in New York City.

For Samantha Heavrin, the COVID-19 pandemic almost left her without work.

“My organization AMSURG, who is incredibly brilliant, they have ambulatory services all across the U.S. and everything closed, so none of us had jobs,” said Heavrin. “So, they’re like, ‘we’re sitting on a group of intelligent, well-groomed people for a crisis like this and they’re unemployed.’”

Heavrin saw the need somewhere else though. She left Louisville and got to New York City almost a month ago. Right now, she and co-worker Salle McAfee are working with the Mount Sinai Health System.

“We’re going to be intubating patients, we’re going to be proning patients, because somebody had to manage the airway when you put these patients on their bellies and you don’t want to lose, so that’s going to be our job. Emergency intubation is a big thing,” said Heavrin.

Those are just some of the many duties they and other Kentucky healthcare workers have in New York.

“It’s a war and that’s what it feels like,” said Heavrin.

During the stressful time, healthcare workers lean on each other for support.

“I don’t think I could make it without Samantha. The shifts are just mentally and physically exhausting. You just can’t do enough,” said McAfee. "We rely on each other a lot. We FaceTime my three-year-old. He’s super sweet, so that helps.”

The CRNAs hope to be back in Kentucky in a couple of weeks, trained and ready if the situation gets worse.

“If a pandemic really hit us hard in Louisville or Lexington, I could walk in and tell you, ‘this is what we need to do and this is how we need to do it,’” said Heavrin.