‘Nursing instinct’: UH student puts career, education on pause to fight COVID-19 in New York
As the number of COVID-19 patients increased, UH nursing student Raul Silva knew his time to work as a nurse was now, and there was one place he must travel to that needed him now more than ever: New York.
“It was mainly nursing instinct which led to my decision, I was already working in the front lines being in ER,” Silva said. “I understood the risks and saw how serious the crisis was getting and the shortage of nurses there was.”
Silva began working as a nurse at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York City’s Brooklyn borough on April 15 and is contracted until June 6.
Silva has been an emergency room nurse for six years with an associate’s in nursing and is currently in UH’s fast track program to receive his bachelor’s degree.
Silva was set to graduate last December, but he is now expected to graduate sometime in 2021 and plans to continue classes in the fall to retake the courses he missed.
“I paused my career and education, so I wish to continue where I left off and finish my goals,” Silva said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Silva worked at a Kingwood health care facility and within a few months decided to offer his service in battling the widespread disease.
During his first four weeks in New York, Silva was placed in a rehabilitation hospital that had been repurposed for COVID-19 patients.
Silva said patients were monitored and slowly taken off of oxygen, given antibiotics and physical therapy when ready.
“For my next four weeks I will be in the main hospital and work on a (medical-surgical) floor in addition to taking care of COVID positive patients and patients on ventilators,” Silva said.
Despite Silva only being certified in Texas health care, he said it was not hard to apply to assist in New York as long as he had the correct certifications.
“All I did was place my skills and experience where it was most needed at the time,” Silva said.
While it was a difficult transition, Silva said his family understood his decision to help.
“Although I’m not married and don’t have kids, I still have a caring and loving family and being Hispanic means it’s a close knit family,” Silva said “I’m not only representing my culture but my community as well.”
Silva, a National Association of Hispanic Nurses Houston chapter member, said patience is key when it comes to fighting the pandemic.
“It’s very unfortunate that I don’t get to see (New York) at it’s finest,” Silva said, “but I came here for one thing only and that’s to do my job the best way I can.”
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