Coronavirus News: ICU nurse on front lines of COVID-19 pandemic talks heartbreak, moments of joy

ROSLYN, Long Island (WABC) -- One nurse at St. Francis Hospital is sharing her stories of heartbreak and moments of joy while working in the front lines during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Karen Takes, a nurse working inside the Intensive Care Unit, says COVID-19 has been a monstrous moving target. Her regular long shifts have stretched even longer.

"The unknown of this disease, the COVID-19, I've never seen anything like it," said Takes.

Takes has been working at St. Francis Hospital for 19 years. Her husband is a New York City firefighter, and together they have three kids, ages 15, 12, and 9.

"She's normally working a 12-and-a-half-hour shift, but she doesn't finish until her job is done," nurse manager Lori Brush said. "She makes sure the patients are settled, everything is taken care of and the handoff is given. Part of their sacrifice right now is that they work on opposite days."

Takes says the hardest part was explaining the risks of working and taking care of people who are infected with the coronavirus to her children.

"They did worry every day if I was going to come home, or if I was going to get sick -- they had lots of questions," Takes said. "Both my husband and I sat down with our kids and explained this is what we do and we will be fine."

The hardest part of the job, she says, has been sitting, holding hands with patients because she knows loved ones are not permitted inside the ICU.

She has also helped to coordinate patients' last rites.

"They would come up and give them the last rites and they would speak to the family, and would help them get through it, everything was over FaceTime," she said.

But there have also been happy times when staff plays music to signal success when someone gets off of a ventilator or when someone gets to leave the hospital and go home.

Takes says that those happy times, her family, and faith have carried her through.

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