Traveling nurse who helped battle COVID-19 in NYC returns home to Atlanta

ATLANTA — A metro Atlanta nurse who left a job here in town to help on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus in New York City is back home with an unexpected end to her story.

Channel 2’s Jorge Estevez has remained in contact with Vanessa Warner over the past two months as she has detailed her journey on WSB Tonight about taking care of victims of the virus in the Big Apple.

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

She is now back home -- for a few days at least…

“You left the job and your family to go up to New York City and fight COVID-19. Was it worth it?” Estevez asked Warner.

"Absolutely. Without a doubt, it's the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was the hardest choice, but the best choice ever made. Atlanta, I love you. You guys have shown up,” Warner said.


While there, she felt the love from Georgia. From messages of hope to supplies. Metro Atlantans sent gowns, personal protective equipment, food, donations, you name it.

“I promise you in my worst moments and in some of the most bad times with experience while we were there, those things, those little pieces of love that were sent by total strangers to support us got us through,” Warner said.

Warner said things got really tough during her shifts.

[READ: Metro nurse details nightmare scenario while helping fight coronavirus in NYC]

“What surprised you about going up there that we wouldn't even really think about?” Estevez asked Warner.

“The cameras are not capturing what the extent of the horror that COVID can be, the severity of how sick those people are and all of the interventions we have to do to try to get them better or fight for them until the end,” Warner said.

Warner said one of the most fulfilling moments she had with a patient fighting COVID-19 came on one of her last shifts with a traumatic injury patient she had treated and ended up having a chance encounter with him again right before leaving.

“He said, ‘You fought for me when I wanted to give up, when I thought it was the worst. You fought for me and you said you don't get to give up today and even if you want to, I’m not giving up on you. So that's what we're doing today. I owe you my life because you fought for me when I didn't want to,’” Warner said.

[READ: Metro nurse willing to do whatever she needs to help COVID-19 patients – even pay NY income tax]

Now, a new crisis faces our nation -- the fight for equality. Vanessa saw people fight to breathe in the New York hospitals and protesters say they can't breathe on Atlanta streets.

She wants protesters to be heard and to be safe.

“Please don't forget that this disease, this virus, does not discriminate. So when you are out there using your voice to be safe, wear a mask and use hand sanitizer. Be safe right now because it would be a tragedy to see people fighting so hard for what they believe in to be taken by something that it doesn't care about anything,” Warner said.

When Estevez spoke with Warner she told him that she was supporting a local protest and had to leave early. She said she received a phone call for another tour of duty in New York City.

She leaves again in a few days.

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