DENVER (KDVR) — Many nurses view their jobs as callings rather than careers. However, that calling requires a lot of sacrifice, especially during this coronavirus pandemic.
Kandyce Nielson hasn’t seen her 5-year-old son Kai in seven weeks.
“I cry. I was pretty strong for the first few weeks and I try not to let him see me cry because I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do,” Nielson explained.
Nielson left Colorado to treat COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Minneapolis.
“The longest we’ve been apart is 11 days ever since he’s been born and it’s just us, so being apart for eight weeks, he doesn’t understand it. I don’t know how to handle it all the time,” she said.
Her son Kai is also struggling.
“There’s periods of time where he really misses her,” said Kandyce’s father, Tyler Nielson. Tyler and his wife Vicki are currently watching Kai while their daughter is away.
Nielson’s personal life isn’t easy and neither is her job. She often works 14-hour shifts treating COVID-19 patients. She says she’s often seeing multiple members of the same family.
“We’ve seen death. I’ve seen loved ones have to be wheeled into the room and say goodbye to their loved one and then go back to their room after they’ve passed,” she explained.
“One thing I”ll say about them is they’re all like the special forces of nursing,” said Lauren Pasquale Bartlett, a spokesperson with Fastaff, one of the many agencies in Colorado currently deploying traveling nurses to other states.
“I think the contagion in the beginning was so severe it was kind of intimidating, yet we had three times, four times the number of nurses registering every day on our website,” Pasquale Bartlett explained.
Even so, agencies like Fastaff are struggling to meet demand. Requests for traveling nurses are up more than 1,000 percent in states like Washington and Texas.
For nurses like Kandyce, that means long days.
She’s three weeks away from completing her 10-week-long assignment and already counting down the days until she’s able to hug her son again.
“I miss him, he would say, like Tyrannosaurus Rex-size to the moon and back. I miss him so much,” she said.