By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New York has been the epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States, and some Minnesota nurses have done their best to try and help patients there.

Dan Gustafson is a travel nurse from Hastings. He’s currently working in a Brooklyn Hospital where COVID-19 is widespread.

“Quite honestly, it’s an unimaginable hell from many aspects,” Gustafson said.

When talking about the working conditions for he and his fellow nurses, Gustafson isn’t holding back.

“There’s definitely PTSD for any of us who’ve been on the front lines. There are still some units and floors that are like walking down a living morgue,” Gustafson said.

At the Brooklyn hospital where he’s working, Gustafson said he’s seen more people die from COVID-19 in the past five weeks, than he’d seen in his previous 10 years as a nurse. He’s getting about four hours of sleep a night. At one point, Gustafson said a nurse was in charge of 31 patients. Staffing has been an issue, and so has personal protective equipment.

“We can prevent more, I believe, if better standards and procedures had been followed, worldwide infectious disease protocols that have been around for decades. But we seemed to throw it all out the window for some reason,” Gustafson said.

His sister in Minnesota and a family friend set up a GoFundMe page to get health care workers more PPE. In the meantime he’s watching New York rally around its doctors and nurses.

Gustafson does see better days ahead. And he wants people across the country to know that one of the best ways they can help, is by staying healthy themselves.

“We are really trying to give it our all, but it’s just not enough sometimes,” Gustafson said. “You’ve got to do things mom told you to do as a kid. Get good rest. Eat good food. Get exercise. Try and eliminate stress in your life.”

Gustafson said the good news is that staffing has gotten better at his hospital and the death rate is starting to drop. He’s really hoping people put aside politics and learn from what our country has gone through with COVID-19.

John Lauritsen