IHC doctors and nurses return from treating COVID-19 patients in New York

May 6, 2020, 6:13 PM | Updated: 6:16 pm

MURRAY, UT — Doctors and nurses from Intermountain Healthcare are encouraging Utahns to keep social distancing after they returned from a two week stay in New York treating COVID-19 patients. 

Dr. Dixie Harris is a pulmonary critical care physician and one of the 100 nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers Intermountain sent to New York to relieve hospital workers there. She worries about Utah loosening its COVID-19 restrictions. 

“The fact that we feel somewhat protected, we’re opening up here in Utah. But, yet, this disease can come like a flash of wildfire and hit any community,” Harris said during a news conference on Wednesday. 

RELATED READING: Intermountain Healthcare to start COVID-19 antibody tests

Whitney Hilton is a nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden. She was chosen to go to several hospitals on Long Island because she has experience in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Doctors and nurses report Dark times

There were a lot of dark times. 

“I saw a pregnant woman lose her baby, then two days later she actually passed away [from COVID-19],” Hilton said. “I saw several family members being Facetimed, just devastated with what they saw.

They didn’t realize the critical state that their loved ones were in. And then I just saw patient after patient after patient after patient lined up in a critical state,” Hilton said. 

She thinks people in Utah need to take precautions because COVID-19 can strike in the suburbs as well. 

It can happen here

“I didn’t work in Manhattan; I worked on Long Island. Outside of my hotel looked like a suburban area, like normal houses, normal yards. And, so, it really, really instilled to me that we are just as susceptible,” Hilton. 

Utah has loosened COVID-19 restrictions because the state has not been as hard hit by the virus as was projected. The rate of positive tests is going down, while the Southwest Utah Public Health Department supports even fewer restrictions on some cities and counties. 

RELATED READING:  Two Utah County Businesses accused of ignoring health guidelines, telling COVID positive employees to return to work

Dr. Harris, Nurse Hilton, and the others did have some positive takeaways from their experiences. Some saw babies being born, while all said they learned more about what to do if the pandemic becomes more serious in Utah. 

Hilton also got a special surprise when she got home: a signed thank you note from pop star Taylor Swift.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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IHC doctors and nurses return from treating COVID-19 patients in New York