Travel Nurse Runs to the COVID-19 Fire: ‘I’m here to serve.’
By Jennifer Larson, contributor
Scott Labadie, RN, has run into burning
He’s jumped out of airplanes.
He’s worked in operating rooms during
Of course, he was willing to leave his
job and home in Florida to go work in New York City in April, when the
coronavirus pandemic was raging.
An invitation he couldn’t refuse
In March, Scott received a call from Sally
Small, his travel nurse recruiter at NurseChoice. She asked if he’d be willing
to take on a 4-week assignment at New York–Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
Hospital. They needed additional nurses to take care of the surging numbers of
patients with COVID-19.
Having worked with Scott for three years,
Sally knew that this type of travel nursing assignment
would resonate with him. And she was right.
“It was an immediate ‘Yes’,” says Scott.
His wife, Zully, agreed with him. The
couple are active in their church, and they regularly take mission trips where
they can put their nursing skills to work. At the time of the call, both
husband and wife were working at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center in Florida,
but the hospital really needed Zully to stay in her job as an ICU nurse in the
So, Scott made plans to journey to New
York alone. He has a background as a paramedic and firefighter, so he felt
prepared for the pressure of a very intense environment.
He arrived in early April, and, after a
quick orientation, went right to work. Like many other medical centers in New
York City at the time, the hospital’s staff was depleted by COVID-19. So the
nurses and other staff welcomed him with open arms.
“All the staff was so friendly to me and
so welcoming. They were so happy to see me,” he says. “I felt loved and like I
was part of the family.”
Making a difference in the most difficult circumstances
Scott’s patients were sick, very sick,
and many were dying. Because of the severity of pandemic and the social
distancing guidelines, they were also alone. So he made it a point to reach out
to them and to their anxious loved ones.
He arranged video chats with his
patients’ family members. He gave them his cell phone number so they could call
or text him. He prayed over his patients, and over the phone with their family
A 14-minute walk from his apartment to
the hospital meant that he could check in on his patients anytime.
“Even on my days off, I would go up there
to them,” he says. “I would go up to their rooms and let their family members
video chat with them.”
Scott’s church back home sent donations,
including face masks and other goodies that he could share with others. He
passed them out to nurses and other staffers. And when his patients were
fortunate to be discharged from the hospital, he kept in touch so he could find
out how they were doing.
As the numbers of COVID-19 patients began
to drop, Scott stayed busy. A New York City hospital always has patients coming
in and needing help from a veteran nurse like him.
Scott’s travel nursing assignment in New
York City will wrap up on July 4, and he’ll be headed home to Palm Beach. He’s
glad that he has had this opportunity.
“I’m here to help and to have a willing
heart and a willing mind, to just be able to do anything they ask of me that
they need help for,” he explains. “That’s what a true servant is. I’m here to
serve, not to be served.”
Considering the travel nursing lifestyle for yourself?
“Travel nursing is a good way to learn
something about yourself,” says Scott, adding that it is also worth walking
through any nervousness that you may have because fear can hold you back. He
suggests having an open mind and not putting expectations on yourself or the
experience in advance.
His last word of advice? “A good
recruiter, like Sallie Small, is a necessary resource.”
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