‘I’d never like to repeat this’: Minnesota nurse shares stories of heartbreak while battling COVID-19 out east

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Kristen Martins’ blog was started to update her Minnesota family on her new journey to help COVID-19 patients in New Jersey but it was then shared online.

On it, she provides an eyewitness account to the stress, heartbreak and pain felt by those on the front lines combating the coronavirus.

"Then people started texting and messaging me,” Martins said. “I’m like I don’t know who you are."

That support from strangers fills the blog’s comment section.

Martins tries to write updates after coming home from 12-plus hour days at the hospital in Belleville.

She used to work at Regions Hospital in the Twin Cities earlier this spring as a nurse but decided to sign up for an eight-week shift out east.

"Minnesota has done fabulous keeping the rates low,” Martins said. “Which is why I’m here."

The days start the same with a forehead temperature scan and being asked by staff if she has any flu-like symptoms when arriving at the hospital before going to the Intensive Care Unit.

The nurse has posted that she’s fortunate the hospital has enough personal protective gear but other medical supplies can run short.

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At times, she handles triple the number of patients on ventilators than she normally has back in Minnesota.

Earlier this week, she had an emotionally draining start to the day on the job.

"It’s actually the first patient of my own that’s coded or flat-lined,” Martins said. “I actually had two of them yesterday so it’s insane."

Another day, Martins said a mother and her 15-year-old son died from COVID-19.

"The heartbreak and talking to families how their family is doing, it wears on you," she said.

Martins suggested that following the ‘stay at home’ order is the best thing Minnesotans can do so they don’t see what she’s experienced.

"It blows my mind that people think it’s fake, or it’s not going to affect them, it will affect them,” Martins said.

The nurse plans to return back home in the summer to help at a Twin Cities hospital.

"I would not like to come back home in June and repeat this," Martins said. “I’d never like to repeat this."