Metro nurse details nightmare scenario while helping fight coronavirus in NYC

ATLANTA — A metro nurse who volunteered to go to New York City to help with the coronavirus crisis unfolding there, said she was mortified to find out her home state was going to be the first state to start reopening amid the ongoing pandemic.

Channel 2 anchor Jorge Estevez spoke with Vanessa Warner on Thursday, her only day that she’s had off in the last three weeks.

[PHOTOS: Traveling nurse shares thank you letters and pictures from patients in NYC]

Warner packed up and left her Buckhead home on April 5 and drove 14 hours to live in a New York City hotel, leaving behind her family.

She told Estevez that she had no idea the hell that awaited her.

“This is the most vicious, vile, disgusting, just horrible thing to watch and to be helpless to kind of do anything to stop it,” Warner said. “I was scared about that, but then you get your first patient and you walk into the first room and it kicks in -- you’re a nurse.”


At the peak of the pandemic in New York City, medical workers saw one person die about every two minutes.

“If people had to watch their own family member go through what this is, they would never put their hand on the door knob. They would never leave the house, if they knew what it could do to themselves or to someone that they love. They would never do it,” Warner said.

Even though she witnessed how the city embraced front line workers, she couldn’t escape other memories like the day her favorite patient succumbed to the virus.

Blue Angels over NYC 💙

Posted by Vanessa Warner on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

“He was my hardest one, because I went from talking to him and I would bring my phone and he would talk to his daughter and I had to watch him just day after day get worse and worse,” Warner told Estevez.

Posted by Vanessa Warner on Sunday, April 19, 2020

The next day when she went to see him -- he wasn't there.

“Having to talk to his daughter and tell her that I was there with him and that, you know, somebody loved him that was there, that was, that was tough and that is not the only one. It just keeps going. I have too many of those stories,” Warner said.

She told Estevez that there are also moments that keep her going.

Reaction we got when we got off the bus at the hotel... definitely needed after today... brought tears to my eyes 💕 the people of New York love us and thankful for us

Posted by Andrea Homer on Sunday, April 26, 2020

Much like Atlantans cheer in midtown for our medical workers, they do that too in New York. But Warner said they often miss the moment.

"For the day shift workers, we don’t see it. Not that we’re looking for it, but we don’t get to hear it and see it and so people found out about that and now they come to our hotel and they have signs and they have pots and pans and they cheer for us," Warner said. "I am so honored to be here to help in whatever way I can."

And there are other moments like when good Samaritans drop off supplies, send gifts to cheer them up or draw messages of hope.

“When I get pictures and when I get cards, and when strangers from all over the country, are just so supportive and loving, it makes it a little bit better. I can be happy just for a second. It doesn’t diminish my sadness, but I can be happy for a little while too,” Warner said.

Posted by Vanessa Warner on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

She told Estevez that she might be hours away, but she worries about Georgians.

“The idea that even a fraction of what we’re seeing here could happen at home is just frightening. It’s terrifying to think that anyone would have to experience what they’re experiencing here,” Warner said.

She is an angel on a mission with a strong message:

“While there is hope in numbers, there is still humans in those rooms, and please respect the lives of the humans and the families and the people that are in those rooms fighting for their lives, and stay home until the science, the scientists tell us it’s OK,” Warner said. “Please! Please, please, please, please. That’s all. That’s my message, please stay home.”

Warner said there is a way you can help. She wants to show her teammates that Georgia cares. If you would like to send her a card or message of hope, here is her address in New York:

Attn: Vanessa Warner, RN

Marritot Marquis Hotel

1535 Broadway

New York, New York, 10036

The hotel is letting them wallpaper the lobby with everything you send.