Travel nurses to assist Fresno County during COVID surge

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 2,000 miles away from her Michigan home, Registered Nurse Cydni Strong is one of 117 healthcare heroes who will be staffing Community Medical Centers in the Valley.

She says, "I've lost one of my closest friends to COVID and my only uncle when it all started. It touches me a little differently because I don't want to see anyone go through what me and my family went through before."

The help, Valley healthcare leaders say the region has been desperate for comes from across the US.

Sheila Zinentah, an ICU Registered Nurse from North Carolina, says, "If we can save a few lives, it's worth it."

Fresno County EMS Director Dan Lynch says, "Will that solve the problem? No, because we still have probably close to 300 medical staff out on either COVID or quarantine and that leaves a huge gap.

But every bit counts when it comes to getting to critical care.

Fresno County's level 1 trauma center, CRMC, is running at 110 percent capacity.

"For those involved in a traffic accident, shooting, stabbing or any type of traumatic event there's, a concern are we going to be able to take care of that person in our facilities," Lynch said.

During Tuesday's county board meeting, interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra shared the story of a 20-year-old woman who, because of surge impacts, did not have access to a machine that could have helped her after overdosing on anti-depressant medication.

Dr. Vohra said, "She made a mistake. She deserved a second chance. She deserved the mercy of at least having the chance to recover.

The health department is saying we can do our part too. They're working to boost vaccination numbers, saying they are starting an aggressive education campaign.

They're also considering further incentivizing vaccinations by offering grants to businesses whose employees are vaccinated.
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