LI nurses coping with challenges, struggles of treating COVID-19 patients

Long Island nurses have faced an immense challenge head-on in the past few weeks, and it's one that has presented struggles for even the most experienced health care staff.
Liz Conklin has been a registered nurse at NYU-Winthrop for 38 years, and for more than half of that time has been spent treating patients in the emergency room. She was working during the 1990 Avianca plane crash, the 1993 LIRR shooting and during 9/11.
But for Conklin, treating patients with COVID-19 has been a completely different experience.
"There was a start and a finish. So it was difficult to work through that time but it was going to end," says Conklin about past challenges she worked through. "With this ...we didn't know when it was going to start and we don't know when it's going to end, so every day we're preparing for another bad day."
Health care workers from across Long Island say the long hours and uncertainty of when things will improve is taking a toll on them physically, mentally and emotionally.
John Doyle, an RN at Momentum Rehab and Nursing Facility in East Islip, says he's worked in a hospital setting, has been an EMT and also has six kids. He's used to challenging situations, but this pandemic has really affected him.
Doyle has joined a few virtual support groups to give him some perspective.
"It's making a huge difference. The way I feel today versus how I felt two weeks ago? I can function better, think clearer and do better for the families who need me. And I'm able to remember that everybody is going through this," says Doyle.
Both Doyle and Conklin say it's important to focus on all of the good too, like recovering patients and the thank you messages they've received from surrounding neighborhoods.
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