Stanislaus County nurse practitioner details his journey as a front liner in New York

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STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A furloughed nurse practitioner from Stanislaus County packed his bags and went east to a city ravaged by COVID-19.

Now, the Stanislaus State nurse practitioner graduate is helping some of the hundreds of thousands of patients battling the virus in Brooklyn.

Arnold Velasquez told FOX40 before taking the job in Brooklyn, he didn’t look past the COVID-19 data. Now, he can’t help but see the lives and families affected.

“I mean, it’s just scary. I walk in and every person there just seems very ill,” nurse practitioner Arnold Velasquez said.

He’s detailed his account on social media of what it’s like being a front liner in a New York hospital during the pandemic.

“It was a shock because within 30 minutes of the shift starting, we had someone pass,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez found himself furloughed in March after the ear, nose, and throat clinic he worked for saw fewer and fewer patients.

Rather than wait, he made a choice.

“That’s when I was like, you know what, I have the credentials to help, I need to do something,” he remembered.

With his boss’s blessing,  Velasquez took the job in Brooklyn.

“I find out as well that all five of my patients that day were all COVID positive,” Velasquez said. “I’m like, this is 30 minutes in the whole experience and so it was a bit of a shock.”

Velasquez told FOX40 he’s seen entire families infected.

“Husband and wife both died from it within a week of each other,” he said.

 And an especially sobering moment when a woman about the same age as his mother was admitted. 

“To see the fear — like terrified — she just found out she’s COVID positive,” Velasquez said.

The only language the two were able to share was human compassion.

“[I] kind of just rubbed her back and said, listen, I’m here to kind of take care of you, and just flooding … just tears,” he remembered.

Velasquez said — like most hospitals — he’s had to reuse his mask. But the situation has gotten better.

“I almost had the mentality like I did sign up for this kind of thing,” Velasquez explained. 

He said he knows the risk involved and he’s willing to take it.

“So, yes, I am scared to get it but at the same time it’s not going to prevent it from doing my job,” Velasquez said.

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