One of Bozeman’s very own is fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle in the country’s hardest hit city.
“They don’t have the resources, there’s too many people down here, this spread way faster than they thought,” said Toshia Munter, a nurse from Bozeman Health who took a leave of absence to work as a nurse in New York City.
The work is hard. Twelve hour shifts for twenty one days straight.
“I was so nervous because this is out of my comfort zone.They told you that you can tell them what your speciality is but they’re gonna put you where you’re needed and there may be things that you’re doing that you’re not comfortable with and you just need to do the best you can,” said Munter.
Munter was assigned to the night shift at Roosevelt Island Medical Center in Queens working with COVID-19 patients. She says personal protective equipment is low.
“Those N-95’s are made to be worn one time, the same with these gowns are made to be worn one time. And here you have to wear an N95 mask for 6 days before they’ll give you a new one,” said Munter.
“I had some patients that were Covid-negative and some that were positive. And so you’re going into a room with a gown that you’ve been into a positive room with into a negative room and that’s just never the way you’ve been taught.”
Resources compared to larger hospitals in New York City are limited at Munter’s hospital. And she says the possibility of transferring patients can be impossible.
“I had a patient that I noticed that was really deteriorating and really having a hard time breathing. In the end he ended up dying and it’s heartbreaking because the resources aren’t here and they don’t transfer if there’s not room for them,” said Munter.
And COVID-related deaths have become a harsh reality for the Bozeman nurse.
“There is a refrigerated 18-wheeler truck at the back of our hospital. And there weren't even enough body bags.”
Munter says she worries about the mental health of her recovering patients as well.
“They’re just really going downhill because of the depression and the isolation and you feel bad because you’re like, you and the day nurse are the only ones they have contact with,” she said.
Munter is near the end of her 21-day shift and has no regrets.
“I feel, it kinda makes me get teared up, but I feel accomplished that I had the courage to come here and help in some way. I feel like I’ve made a small difference even though it’s definitely not over here.”
Munter says things are starting to look better in New York City from when she arrived weeks ago. She looks forward to seeing her family soon, quarantining for 14 days, and then getting back to work at Bozeman Health.