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Coronavirus Update: Long Island Nurse Sees Front-Line Workers Starting To Get Sick, Says 'No One Seems To Care About Us'

STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Front-line medical workers are continuing to deal with dire shortages of masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment.

"I really hope that nothing happens to me," said Amy Lee Pacholk, a nurse in the surgical trauma ICU at Stony Brook.

Pacholk is worried about what would happen to her 8-year-old daughter if she was infected with the deadly coronavirus while helping patients who have tested positive.

"Truth is, is that your front-line workers are already starting to get sick," she told CBS2's John Dias over Facetime.


Pacholk says Stony Brook Hospital and many hospitals on Long Island are running out of basic supplies; proper masks, even gowns and gloves could soon be hard to come by.

"Everyone who is a healthcare provider, or most people who are healthcare providers, want to help people, but we didn't sign up for this. We signed up for standards," Pacholk said.

She says this past week, a patient was having a medical episode and only two people -- less than half of what is usually required -- could help because not everyone had proper masks.

"They watched from outside. Thank god the patient broke out of rhythm," Pacholk said.

Laura Curran, the Nassau County executive, says they're doing everything possible to help.

"We are getting our hands on as many supplies as we can," she said. "We are going to need help from the federal government, there's no doubt about that."

Health commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein says access to ventilators isn't a current problem in the county but is advising healthcare workers to reuse equipment.

"Even though it hasn't been practiced in the past, with some of it, if equipment can be re-used safely, we are asking our providers to do it," he said.

Health officials are continuing to warn residents at home to not hoard medical equipment, especially masks.

"Anybody who is well and is out taking a walk and isn't going to be exposed to other people does not need to be wearing a mask, but that first responder who may be responding to pick somebody up does need to have a mask," Eisenstein said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

While President Donald Trump recently said millions of masks are in production and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still encouraging more companies to manufacture personal protective equipment, Pacholk says the community should do more.

"In these last few weeks, it's mind-blowing to me that no one seems to care about us," she said. "What I need people to do is help us with equipment."

She says every mask donated helps save lives.

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