Charleston nurse volunteers in New York hospital during coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Apr. 6, 2020 at 7:58 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston emergency room nurse is getting ready for her first day on the job in New York.

It's where the most coronavirus cases are being reported in the United States.

New York is reporting more than 130,600 cases and more than 4,700 deaths.

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the rate of infection in the state is going down, the state is asking for health care volunteers as their hospitals are overwhelmed.

A New York nurse license is no longer required to work in the state.

Emergency room nurse and mother from Charleston, April Gilliard, says she prayed about her decision to go to New York and work in the hospitals there.

"Just to know that they work so hard and long hours and it was just I just felt like it was needed, it was pulling on my heart a little bit the opportunity presented itself...," Gilliard said. "I prayed about it, I got my answer and I was ready to go in a week, they sent for me in a week and here I am."

She arrived in New York on Sunday.

She will be there for at least a month, but could stay longer if she decides to.

Gilliard will be working as an emergency room nurse in New York, that means she could be working with COVID-19 patients. While she did not disclose what hospital, she says New York has been referred to as a war zone.

She says she's not worried about getting the virus. However, she says her worry is passing it on to someone else if she happens to get the virus and has no symptoms.

"If it's your purpose you don't feel like it's job, you are just doing what you were called to do, my family of course did not want me to come," Gilliard said.

Her father, Rep. Wendall Gilliard posted on Facebook about her departure.

He says seeing her off was one the hardest things he’s ever had to do as a father and it was like sending her to war.

She says she promised to call him every day so he knows that she is fine.

“I wanted to be a nurse only because I think it’s my purpose on earth to help other people, something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a little girl,” April said. “My parents instilled that in me, my mom who was was a caretaker as well before she passed away and my father who is of course big in the community.”

She’s been watching the coverage of New York on the news where she’s seen patients lined up in the hallways.

April says her recruiter assured her that there is enough protective gear available for them.

She says there’s a lot of love and support for health care workers.

"I just want the community to know that when you see nurses, most of the time it's because she wants to be there and she loves it, but you've got to understand we are human beings too," April said. "We have families too so we ask that you take that into consideration too, we have family members that we want to be at home with."

She says she’s excited to help nurses who need breaks and patients who have been waiting in long lines in New York.

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