Oklahoma nurse volunteers to help at New York City hospital amid COVID-19 spread

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans are not just stepping up to the front lines here in our state, but are also stepping up in places hit hardest by the coronavirus. 

With close to 60,000 positive cases in New York, hospitals there are in desperate need of any sort of help. 

One local nurse, Kymberly Langford, got the call to volunteer in New York City and didn’t hesitate to drop her everyday life and suit up to face the worst of it. 

Langford works locally at Integris Baptist Medical Center, and also at Oklahoma Christian University. Now, she is living in New York for at least three weeks. 

“It’s a mess, it’s really hard,” said Langford.

Langford is the definition of a frontline fighter. 

The Oklahoma nurse left her supportive husband and three kids at home to march right into the heart of the pandemic. 

“It’s amazing to me the amount of patients these nurses are taking care of,” she said. 

Langford says at the hospital she’s now working at, there are about 18 patients per nurse. That’s more than four times her usual amount. 

“There’s just a huge influx of patients that they’re sharing rooms. I mean, you might have four patients in the same room. There’s just not enough beds” she said. 

Sadly, not all of those patients will make it. 

“They have ice trucks for bodies because the morgues are filling up so fast,” said Langford.

Not only are the hospitals short staffed, just like most states, they are all short on medical supplies or PPE.

Langford says some are having to wear masks five days in a row, cleaning them each night.

She has to wear a bandage on her nose, just to keep the mask from hurting her face. 

They’re also running out of ventilators.  

“It’s picking who is the best candidate to survive and having to triage them, and then we have to think about who won’t make it … and so it’s really tough,” she said. 

Monday morning, Langford says she worked overnight with six COVID-19 patients, not all of them fitting into the “most vulnerable” category. 

“Some of them were very young and really, really struggling,” she said. 

After living and volunteering through an Ebola outbreak in Africa, Langford says she felt prepared for this moment.  

“The hospital that I’m working at reminds me of the situation of an African hospital. Chaos, and trash, and broken down stuff just make-shifty things,”she said. 

Regardless of the harsh reality, Langford is sharing her experience, not to scare anyone, but in hopes that people back here at home take social distancing seriously. 

“Social distancing and staying at home and not getting out, not having play dates and church and all of that extra stuff if you don’t have to, just stay home,” she said. “This disease turns really quick. You could have a little bit of shortness of breath and within minutes, you need to be on a ventilator, which are in short supply.”

Her selfless work is not going unnoticed. 

Kym is humble, and servant-hearted. Her family has never been more proud of the hard-working mother of three. 

“I don’t think Kym thinks it’s that impressive. I just think this is her job, this is what she wants to do,” said Kym’s husband Ben. “We’re super proud of her, a little anxious, but super proud.”

Her three kiddos are just as proud. 

“Our kids … they’re going to miss her and it’s going to be difficult but at the same time, they also understand who their mom is and what she’s doing and why it’s important and they’re really proud of her as well,” said Ben. 

“Hopefully after 21 days, if I come home or if I stay, I just really hope I made some bit of difference,” said Kym. 

She says the plan to come home is still all up in the air. She is getting screened, and watching her health very closely. 

Langford will take the necessary precautions, like a weeks long self-quarantine when she returns. 

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