Local nurse cares for COVID-19 patients in New York City

Brownsville native Raul Silva is a nurse who is in New York City to help the health care community take care of patients who have contracted COVID-19. Courtesy photo

Raul Silva, a Brownsville native, is one of the thousands of nurses who are tirelessly working to save lives in New York City as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. NYC is the epicenter of the coronavirus and has more than 180,000 confirmed cases, as of press time.

Silva, a Texas Southmost College graduate, moved to New York City four weeks ago to help as much as he can during this health crisis. He said that ever since he was in nursing school, he knew part of his duties would include getting close to danger all the time to save lives.

“ From the time that this crisis started, I was already working in ER in Houston so I was already in the frontlines, I already understood the risk and everything that was happening seeing this firsthand,” he said during a phone interview.

“ And then I started seeing the nursing shortage and the crisis happening in New York. It was honestly mainly instinct that drove me to go to New York. Since I was in school, I thought that I was going to be exposed to danger all the time and we are taught to go toward the danger as opposed to running from it.”

Silva said he plans on staying only for another four weeks in New York because thankfully there has been less and less people hospitalized in the past few days and the need for nurses from out of town is diminishing. He worked in Brownsville as a nurse for a few years before moving to Houston, where he is a student in the RN to BSN program at the University of Houston.

In New York City, Silva is part of the staff of healthcare workers who are working at a rehabilitation hospital with post-COVID patients. He said the hospital was supposed to open later in the summer but because of the pandemic they repurposed it and equipped it so post-COVID patients could receive treatment there.

“ These are all COVID-19 patients that are now in recovery so they are put into this rehabilitation hospital, where I am at, and they are monitored for three to seven days and they have come off the ventilator,” he said. Some of these patients have been intubated for weeks, so they require a lot of physical therapy.”

A recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research concluded that people of color have been hit harder by the coronavirus than Americans overall. Silva said he has had a good number of Hispanic patients and that there have been times where he is the only Spanish-speaker in the unit, allowing him to communicate better and more efficiently.

Silva said Hispanics are very tight-knit communities and it can be harder to adapt social distancing measures. He said he has seen more than one family member be affected by COVID-19.

“ Some of these patients have recovered from COVID-19 and are hospitalized for weeks, and then they find out that family members are being affected and have been infected, too,” he said. “One time, I had a patient that two of his family members died, his uncle and his father, while he was recovering from it; this affects a lot of people, sometimes complete families.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com