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Health Care Workers In Gary, Indiana Describe Experience On Front Lines During COVID-19 Surge

GARY, Ind. (CBS) -- We've all seen long lines at COVID-19 testing facilities over the last few weeks.

On Friday, CBS 2's Steven Graves talked with workers on the front lines just over the state line in Gary, Indiana.

"It's more than just giving a vaccination or giving a COVID swab," said nurse Danielle Collins.

Lately, Collins also deals with emotions, when administering tests and shots in a COVID surge brings unwanted jabs from impatient people.

"The pushing and the shoving; the arguing; people using profanity; people saying that you don't care," Collins said.

The Gary native said that last sentiment is the farthest from the truth.

"I love my community. I love my community," she said. "I feel that I'm giving back."

She said she is giving back because she tests her own family and friends some days - seeing leave with unexpected news.

"You know, because out of the nine people you test, at least four of them have COVID," Collins said.

We visited the Gary Health Department as Collins worked earlier this week. In a rare moment, she and other nurses had no patients - a much needed break.

"Yeah, and that's how it is," Collins said. "You breathe - really thanking God that you're here."

One of the hardest parts for these nurses is seeing someone come into the doors to get a test one day - and later realizing they're never going to return.

"You might see a person come in on a Monday and then you look in the paper and that person has died," Collins said. "It really affects you."

Collins and her co-worker, Brandy Downs-Burnett, say they bring the pain home.

"There was a lot of times I just had to just get in a room by myself and just pray," said Downs-Barnett, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Gary Health Department.

It is a push to keep going for their community that they hope sees them as more than people in a mask and gown.

"Be patient," said Downs-Burnet. "I am the same human as you are."

"My whole thing is love genuinely - because you may be here today and gone tomorrow," added Collins.

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