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Local nurse volunteers in NYC field hospital for COVID-19 patients

AJ Gray says going to New York City to work the frontlines of COVID-19 was an easy decision, because she was born to help people.

QUEENS, N.Y. — AJ Gray, 31, is an EMT instructor at Lorain County Community College, and a registered nurse. 

We talked to her from her hotel room in New York City last week, on her last day volunteering there.

She served for 14 days, in the epicenter of COVID-19 in the U.S., with more than 19,000 deaths to date.

“So I got a call the next day, and about a week and two days later I was on a plane," AJ told us. “He told me to prepare for like a war zone type environment.”

She volunteered at a field hospital in Queens, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“So we take the COVID positive patients. They still need medical treatment so they're not well enough to go home," AJ said. “We're on the training courts and you can't really tell it's a tennis court at all.”

Working there, was sometimes grueling.

“I've been here for 14 days. I worked 13, 12-hour shifts straight. It's not even the patient load is just being an all that, uh, the mask and the goggles and the gown," AJ said.

She also cared for the sick, with no loved ones to comfort them.

"We were making the decisions to move patients to hospice. And the fact that they're alone. They can't see their family ... that was probably the hardest part," AJ said.

But, if you ask AJ, she was destined for this.

“I feel like a calling to help people. I guess I always have," she said.

And, in such a surreal time, it comes to no surprise to her colleagues.

“She's a, she's a doer, a helper and a leader," Dawn Sgro said of her friend, AJ. “I would trust her with, with any of my family members.”

“She's extremely knowledgeable, but it's where knowledge and that heart come together, because that's what makes a person good in the healthcare professions," Mary Grady, AJ's friend said.

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