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Houston-based nurse practitioner shares experience on the front lines of NYC coronavirus fight

Warns Houstonians, ‘this is not the flu, please take it seriously’

HOUSTON – A Houston-area nurse practitioner is getting an up-close look at the coronavirus outbreak in New York City.

Holly Benson works for North Houston Family Medicine, but is spending 21 days working 12 hour shifts on the front lines at a New York City hospital.

“It’s been very busy, emotionally it’s definitely been a drain, but I’m trying to stay positive,” Benson said.

Benson works on a floor with coronavirus patients not critical enough for the intensive care unit, but still too sick to go home.

"Almost every single floor has become a coronavirus floor, I would say 90% if not higher of the population here is corona positive. It's emotional, I had some situations this week where I had a patient who wasn't doing well and I could just feel the tears I would pray over the patient. It's very frustrating obviously where you're doing everything you know to and it's just not working," she said.

She said she has seen young, healthy people suffer as seriously as those with underlying conditions.

"It's definitely a mystery and it's definitely shocking in some of the cases I've seen," she said.

She's trying to help as many patients as she can while also doing her best to protect herself against the virus.

"We're having to reuse the N95's for a few days because there's a shortage of those. When I get here, I put on one of the white suits that you see or either a surgeon's gown and shoe covers and my N95. Then when I go into the rooms I add another layer I add goggles, I add a hood I add another gown at least two pairs of gloves. And I have a pretty serious decontamination routine when I get back to my hotel," Benson said.

The 33-year-old is also a wife and mother, using FaceTime multiple times a day to stay connected to her family.

"I'm definitely homesick especially my husband and that little girl," she said.

Benson said she has already shared some of what she’s learned with medical professionals in Houston and is ready to come home to teach more about treated the coronavirus.


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