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'These people were just not getting better': Arizona nurse who worked COVID-19 front lines in New York concerned over case surge

After caring for coronavirus patients for weeks in New York, an Arizona nurse is back home and worried about how the virus could develop in the state.

An Arizona nurse who worked on the front lines of the coronavirus fight in New York is now back home.

Leigh Bowie, an RN, is a travel nurse. She got a contract in New York before COVID-19 hit, and her time there was supposed to be not just about work, but also experiencing the city and catching shows during downtime.

But COVID-19 brought that to a screeching halt.

“Towards the end of February we just got hit,” Bowie said. “Before you knew it our whole hospital practically was filled with patients.”

Bowie worked at Westchester Medical Center and found herself caring for COVID-19 patients day in and day out for weeks.

“We would be turning the oxygen up, you know, as the day went by. From two, to four, to six, to 10 liters,” Bowie said “They’d be asking us, ‘Can you just give us more oxygen? We can’t get enough air. We can’t breathe.”

Bowie describes the virus as something she hasn’t seen in her roughly 30 years as a nurse.

“We just realized that this was just not a normal disease,” Bowie said. “Because if you have the flu or pneumonia or some thing, as you go up on somebody’s oxygen level, they’re going to get better and these people were just not getting better.”

As her time went on she was able to see patients get better and go home. But coming back to Arizona, she’s worried about what could happen here.

“To come here and to see maybe 30% of people wearing masks and to know what that means down the road it’s horrifying,” Bowie said.  

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Bowie said she saw patients across the age spectrum, healthy and not, get sick with COVID-19 and believes masks can help slow the spread.

She’s heading back to work at a local hospital and she hopes people will take precautions.

“I’m a little scared,” Bowie said. “I’m scared to see people suffer again.”

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