Nurse describes treating COVID-19 patients as a war zone

It was a war zone. It’s the description one Georgia travel nurse uses to remember her time treating COVID-19 patients at a New Jersey hospital.

Amy Goddard spent 11 weeks at an all-positive COVID-19 hospital in New Jersey. “You’re physically, emotionally exhausted. But you keep pushing and you keep doing what you have to do, because you’re there for a reason,” she says.

Goddard will mark 30-years in her career as a nurse and she says she’s “never seen anything that even comes close to this. It was pretty much a war zone.”

The open-heart nurse says while she was in NJ, she treated patients ranging from 90-year-olds to young adults. Goddard says the deadly virus doesn’t discriminate against age. “I had a 25-year-old guy who was a marathon runner who died,” she recalls.

After more than 2 months on the front-line, Goddard finally came home. She drove to Warner Robins during Memorial Day weekend. It was the first time she saw what life was like outside what she called the “COVID bubble.” When she stopped to get food at a drive-thru, she says “people were going into the restaurant eating. To me, that was very weird. It’s normal. It’s normal life, but my first thought was, ‘what are they doing?’”

When she arrived at her Aunt and Uncle’s home in Warner Robins, she immediately went into quarantine for two reasons. First, she wanted to keep her family safe. Her aunt and uncle were staying at their lake house on Lake Oconee. Because she’s a travel nurse, she sold her home in Macon and lives with her parents in between contracts.

The second reason for quarantine is that health officials recommend nurses who go from COVID-19 patients, to non-COVID-19 patients, to quarantine. Goddard says, “I’m not one to stand still.” That’s why she hopes to enter a new 13-week contract soon. But she hopes it will not be at a COVID-19 hospital.

Quarantine isn’t an easy time though. Goddard says, “the worst thing for me right now is sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s house by myself and my mind won’t stop. You know, it’s like ‘what am I supposed to do now?”

Goddard says something that helped her get through this experience is her big support system. “People have just been so supportive of what I’m doing and that means more than anything. Just to know that you have that support system,” she says.

She also held her guardian angel necklace throughout long shifts at the hospital. A family member created an initiative using Goddard as the inspiration. ENewton Design sends guardian angel necklaces to women on the front line of COVID-19 for free.

As for treating patients, Goddard says it “was brutal, but it’s an experience I will never forget.”