Treasure Coast nurses describe experience on front lines in New York City

"They’re dying by truckloads"
Posted at 5:52 PM, May 05, 2020

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Two nurses from the Treasure Coast are providing a first-hand account of the coronavirus crisis, after traveling to New York City to be on the front lines to help patients.

“It is a true crisis, it’s an honest to God crisis,” explained Quinn Hazellief, who is a nurse at the St. Lucie Surgery Center.

Julie Franklin is also a nurse and works at the St. Lucie Medical Center. WPTV spoke with both women in early April before they boarded a plane for New York City to treat scores of patients battling the virus.

“It’s very real in some areas. It’s very, very real and people are dying ... they’re dying by truckloads, literally truckloads of bodies, and when you see scares you for the rest of your life,” Franklin said.

Franklin said she was assigned to an overwhelmed hospital in Queens, and Hazellief worked the night shift at a hospital in the Bronx.

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“You don’t have the equipment you need, you don’t have the resources you need, you don’t have the people you need,” Hazellief said.

The nurses said the hospitals were more overrun than you can imagine with patients sitting in chairs for days because no beds were available.

“I had seven patients, one shift, and five of them were on ventilators, which is the highest acuity I have ever seen,” Franklin said.

Both women exposed themselves to the virus to help others, and about two weeks in, Hazellief felt a tickle in her throat.

“I had very good PPE while I was there and I still got coronavirus, and I’ve been sick for two weeks now,” she said.

Both Hazellief and Franklin remain in quarantine at home. Hazellief said she needed some breathing treatments, but considers herself lucky.

As South Florida takes small steps towards re-opening, both nurses are warning everyone to continue to take the virus seriously.

“I just hope people approach it with some caution. If not to protect you but to protect your family, to protect your neighbor or to protect the old lady down the road from you,” Hazellief said.