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Houston County nurse returns home from volunteering in New York

Taylor Carriker spent six weeks taking care of COVID-19 patients in East Harlem.

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Taylor Carriker shared an emotional hug with her husband and family after spending six weeks volunteering at a hospital in New York.

Carriker is a pediatric nurse from Houston County. She said she saw the impact coronavirus was having on New York and wanted to help, so she reached out to a fellow nurse who recently volunteered to help in New York City.

She said she saw an ad online asking for nurse volunteers and boarded a plane less than a week later.

"I had never traveled alone or been to New York, so I was a little nervous," she said.

She said she will never forget seeing Times Square completely empty except for a few healthcare workers.

Carriker said she quickly settled into her new routine and her first job working with adult patients at Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem. She said her new co-workers quickly became like family and the support from New Yorkers at every shift change helped her push through difficult days.

"You could hear them out there cheering for us as we we were getting to the buses, and even at Metro, we had people standing outside cheering us on as we went in. There was this one man out there from my first night to my very last night and didn't miss a beat. He was always out there thanking us, so that was really cool," Carriker said.

She said her entire experience taught her so much about herself and being a nurse.

"You want to save everybody, and that's the mentality that you go with, and then it comes down to the reality of how cruel this virus is, and it doesn't discriminate against anybody. I felt like I did what I was able to do and saved those I was able to save with the help and support of all the other nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists," she said.

Carriker said she was encouraged to see the number of cases starting to drop by the time she left. She said as the daughter of a hair dresser and a businessman, she understands the need to start opening the economy, but as a nurse returning from the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, she wants to urge people to follow health guidelines to stay safe.

Carriker got tested for COVID-19 before leaving New York and must quarantine at home until the results come back, but she said it was such a wonderful feeling to see her family and be back home with her husband.

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