SoCal nurse describes front-line battle against COVID-19, hardship of separating from family

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A nurse on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis describes the challenges of working through tough conditions while spending so much time away from family.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done," Heidi Flores said.

Flores works seven days a week. She's a nurse who works independently and goes to several different facilities. She says she is committed to helping others, but at times it's overwhelming.

"When they do come into the ER they're coming in very, very sick and they require a lot of resources, or they coming in very early on in their disease state wanting to get tested and they're not meeting the criteria to be tested," Flores said. "That's really what we're seeing."

Health care workers find themselves on the front lines of coronavirus fight
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Southern California nurse Heidi Flores is one of many health care workers helping treat coronavirus patients amid long work hours.



Helping others hasn't been easy. She has seven children and made the tough decision to self-isolate and stay away from her family to make sure she keeps them safe.

"At no point in time was it ever conveyed to me that I'd have to make the decision to choose caring for others over my family," she said.

In emergency rooms all over the country health care workers worry about every patient that comes through the door. Could they have COVID-19? They take great care to protect themselves but they fear they are at risk.

"I don't have any symptoms of COVID," she said. "I myself have been tested three times now and have come back negative all three times, however, it's just a matter of time before I bring this home to my children."

Her husband is also a first responder, a law enforcement officer. And her mother who is also a nurse, in labor and delivery, tested positive for COVID-19.

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"I don't think any of us were surprised when she tested positive for COVID-19. We knew it was coming. I truly believe it's just a matter of time before most of us health care professionals test positive for it."

Flores has her oldest daughter and her husband taking care of the children, and she plans to continue working but she doesn't know how long she can go on.

"I'll continue as long as I can because it's not just me. There's other nurses doing the same thing and I think they give me strength," she said. "Watching my husband go out and serve the community as law enforcement and it's business as usual for him. That gives me strength."

Flores says her message is for people to stay home and stay safe. That way, she can return home safely after she's done caring for others.
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