Coronavirus News: Long Island nurse juggles treating COVID-19 patients, making sure own family doesn't get sick

PORT JEFFERSON, Long Island (WABC) -- Glenna Arato is an O.R. nurse at Port Jefferson's St. Charles Hospital. And like many others, she found her situation was altered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"When they got the notice to stop elective surgeries, they canceled the OR - it's only emergency cases," Arato said, "I was watching everything on the news, and there I am sitting home feeling like I have to do something - I'm capable, and really wanted to do anything to help

Arato was called in to work on the front lines at St. Charles and at West Islip's Good Samaritan Hospital.

"The first night I worked at Good Sam, I got in the car and cried the whole way home, because I just thought of these patients sitting in the hospital dying all alone. That's not a normal situation, and nobody should have to ever go through that," Arato said.

While thinking about her patients, Arato had to also think about her family. Her husband, who is a doctor, is a lung cancer survivor. He is immunocompromised, so she needed to take added precautions at home.

"He had a pneumonectomy six years ago, so he only has one lung. I have a basement entrance, and we have a shower in the basement that nobody ever uses. So I set that up before I went to work, with my clothes, my towels. Just stay in the basement - shower down there, cook separate meals. It wasn't easy," added Arato.

While she wanted to help others, Arato was torn, as she knew he had to keep her husband and her family safe. So after a few weeks, she had to step back a bit before returning.

"You know, if I brought that home, with one lung - I don't know how he would fight that," she said.

As for what Arato learned from all this?

"You can't do everything. You can't be everything to everybody - you just can only do your best," she said.

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