East Tennessee nurses traveling to New Orleans to help in COVID-19 pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A group of East Tennessee nurses is taking their skills out of state to care for COVID-19 patients in one of the hardest-hit areas of the country.

They will soon travel to a hospital in New Orleans for a month.

“I’ve always loved going and helping out in other countries. We just feel like that we’re called to go help because this is at home. Our own people and our own nurses, they need us to help here. So we just feel like we’re called to go,” said Nikki Manis.

Manis and Turbyfill have each been nurses for years, but they say the Louisiana assignment feels different than any before.

“This is new for every nurse in America that has never been a part of a pandemic. We haven’t had that,” Turbyfill said.

Manis calls Hawkins County home, and Turbyfill is from Sullivan County.

They’re both part of a group of East Tennessee nurses getting ready to work in the ICU at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

They know New Orleans is hit hard by COVID-19 but don’t know yet exactly how they’ll be offering relief.

“All hands on deck, up close and personal with these patients. Normally we would have two patients per nurse but who knows what the ratios are going to be when we get down there. It’s going to be very intense,” Turbyfill said. “I’m praying like crazy, talking to friends and family about everything. It’s a crazy time but you’ve just got to stay positive.”

The pair are hoping to get donations of scrubs and N-95 masks before they leave, as well as any notes of encouragement they can give to workers on the front lines in New Orleans.

If you’d like to donate, you can get in touch via email at ems_traveldiary@hotmail.com

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