Local nurses returning to NJ to help treat COVID-19 patients

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HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas Two nurses from Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights are back on the front lines in the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tiffany Clark-McCray and Amber Witt are headed back to the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak to treat patients. (Courtesy Photo)

When Tiffany Clark-McCray and Amber Witt first decided to volunteer in early April, it was a decision they made with their families.

“I wouldn’t say they were on board when I first decided to go,” McCray said.

“Everyone was scared but I also have a family that understands that they’re gonna support me no matter what I decide.”

They first left to work at the ICU at Hackensack Medical Center Pascack Valley in Westwood, New Jersey. They were only 30 minutes away from New York City and worked 14-hour shifts every day, experiencing things that took an emotional toll.

“The saddest part about being a nurse was the fact that the family was not with the patients. They died alone,” Witt said.

“The hospitals are trying to make exceptions, but these patients are turning so rapidly that we did not have enough time to get the family in to be with their loved one as they passed.”

They say the scariest part wasn’t the environment, but possibly returning home infected.

“Because of these unknowns, I made it aware with my family,” Witt said.

“I spoke with my daughter and let her know what I wanted done if something happened to me.”

Thankfully, there were a few recoveries as they left. After spending two weeks in New Jersey, both returned to Central Texas safely.

Just two weeks after returning home, the few recoveries motivated them to volunteer a second time. They'll be working in the ICU once again to work at Hackensack Medical Center Mountainside.

No matter how terrifying things may be, they say fighting the good fight against Coronavirus is pure instinct.

“I had to sit down and think about where this drive coming from,” Witt said.

“Why did I want to go so badly? I think it’s just embroiled in us as nurses that we want to help when we can.”