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St. Scholastica nursing grad on the frontlines of COVID-19 in New York City

Updated: April 28, 2020 05:39 PM

She usually cares for the tiniest patients at the beginning of their lives in the NICU. But now, Vui Aipperspach is taking care of patients who are nearing the end of their lives, because of COVID-19.

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The St. Scholastica nursing grad told us she lived in New York in her 20s, and loves the city. "It's always been like a second home," she told us on Tuesday, her day off. She knew she had to come back, when she heard how difficult the COVID-19 situation was becoming.

"I have friends who were working 6 or 7 shifts in a row, 16 hours each," she shared.

Her first shift was last Thursday. She posted about it on Facebook, calling it emotionally draining and a very traumatic experience to relive. And it's been shared over and over again.

"You feel like you're doing everything you can, and they just crumple in front of you," she told us about her patients. "You go into medicine wanting to protect society and the community. And it almost seems like the disease itself is not allowing us to do that."

And it's not just the elderly. On her first shift, she had five patients die in her unit. The ages ranged from 39 to 92. 

Aipperspach said one of the hardest things is walking in someone's room, and straining to see if they are breathing.

Another difficult thing, talking to family members over an iPad, about the grave condition of their loved one. "They are calling and saying, please, do everything you can. We haven't seen our grandparents in who knows how long. We were expecting to celebrate their 70th birthday."

One FaceTime call involved 19 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren in total.

Another challenge, is trying to figure out who her colleages are. Everyone is masked and in scrubs, and she's trying to figure out who is who, on the floor. Another thing she had to figure out, is how to get supplies, which is different than at home.

Her co-workers told her, "You should have seen it a couple of weeks ago," she wrote in her post.

Despite the difficulty, Aipperspach said she has no regrets, and will stay as long as they need her.

Aipperspach added, "I miss my and love my family very much. I thank them every day for reaching out to me, praying for me extra hard, and sending me photos of my dogs. To my NICU crew back home, thanks for all you are doing. You are all rockstars."

She's also been buoyed by the messages people have been sending her from all over the country. She puts them up on Post-it notes on her door, so when she walks out to work, she sees them.

One is from Nancy, who wrote, "I read your post, and I want to say you are incredibly brave. Thank you for all that you do. I will be starting nursing school this fall, and you're such an inspiration. Stay safe."

By the way, she is using her own vacation time to be in New York.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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