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Tampa nurse holds the hands of COVID-19 patients as they take their last breaths

Leah Churchill felt called to go to NYC and help critical patients dealing with the coronavirus.

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Leah Churchill said it happened in the middle of the night. She just couldn't sleep and had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to leave her Florida home and be in New York City.

"When the big guy speaks, you listen," said Churchill.

Just like that, she found a recruiting site online looking for nurses to help in NYC, the country's city hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.

Churchill said within five days she took a leave of absence from her job at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and moved to Brooklyn to work at Kings County Hospital treating the most critical coronavirus patients.

"Unfortunately we have a lot pass every night...still. I mean this is a horrible monster that we’re dealing with," Churchill told 10News.

Earlier this week she was there as doctors intubated a fellow nurse who had contracted the virus.

Churchill explained how heartbreaking it was to treat one of her own.

"She just kept repeating don’t let me die, don’t let me die, don’t put a tube down my throat, I don’t want to be intubated. I don’t want to be intubated, I don’t want to die and it got to the point where we had to put her down and she looked at me and we said, honey we have to intubate you, we’ve got to do this and she swiped her head right at me and looked at me with her big eyes and said don’t let me die."

That patient is on a ventilator but still alive.

Churchill has about six weeks left in Brooklyn. She and other healthcare workers are preparing for the second wave of COVID-19 patients.

"People are dying like crazy and it’s really really hard and when they’re so alone and so afraid, you just want to be there for them," said Churchill.

She decided she wanted to become a nurse when she witnessed her grandmother pass away from Parkinson's disease many years ago. Churchill believes she was destined to care for people, and there's no place she'd rather be right now.

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