Coronavirus News: Nurse quits job, sails to NYC to help battle COVID-19

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, May 14, 2020
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Jim Dolan interviews a nurse from Virginia who sailed to New York City to help battle COVID-19.

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- When a nurse from Virginia first heard the coronavirus pandemic hit, she quit her job, hopped on her boat, and sailed hundreds of miles to answer the call for help in New York City.

Rachel Hartley's boat, the Turning Point, has a million-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline -- but she hasn't had much time to enjoy it.

"These patients are so incredibly sick, that was one of the things that really surprised me getting there initially," Hartley said.

Hartley was trained as an ICU nurse at Cedarville University and now lives in Virginia. When the coronavirus crisis hit New York, even though she had never visited, she knew she had to go to help.

"It was just really hard for me to stay in Virginia and sit at home and not help in the way that I could," Hartley said.

So she and her husband sailed up to NYC in the Turning Point with no idea what they would do with the boat when they got here.

At about that time, Estelle Lau, the owner of the One15 Marina in Brooklyn, was busy weaving together a small network of others who wanted to help.

"For example, my contractor who is the electrician who built my marina offered me all his vans because they're not working, to drive my food to the hospitals," Lau said.

Her marina restaurant was closed so she was paying her staff to make food for the workers at local hospitals, relying mostly on donations of all kinds.

"Somebody showed up with two bags of lemons about three weeks ago, and so we made lemon and lime tars with that, so whatever somebody gives us, we use," Lau said.

Lau makes 1,200 meals a week for hospital workers and her business may well not survive the pandemic.

"That part of the business is going under slowly," Lau said.

And Hartley and her husband are taking a big chance too.

"We decided really quickly that our personal health and our personal safety is not our priority, right now our priority is to help other people," Hartley said. "So that's just something that we know is a risk and we're OK with that, we're content with that."

But both are doing what they can while they still can.

Lau lets Hartley dock her boat at the marina for free so she can help out at the hospital where she works 12-hour shifts from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

And while she doesn't get to enjoy the spectacular view very often, that isn't what she came for.

A GoFundMe was started to help Lau's efforts at One15 Brooklyn Marina.


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