KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Heather Smith, a traveling nurse from Olathe, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic these days.
"This is real, this is not something that is made up," Smith said.
Right now, she is working between 12 and 14-hour shifts at a hospital in New York City.
"Most of the time the ICU patients have multiple organ failure, they can not breathe on their own, other organs are starting to fail," Smith said.
When her previous contract was up, she volunteered to head to New York City, one of the nation's hardest hit areas.
"I just felt like, you know what, this is a really good opportunity for me to do a type of missions work," Smith said. "It's not exactly the same as what you think of normal missions work, but this is a way for me to branch out and do something that helps people."
Her long days are difficult, but her friends and family post encouraging messages for her daily.
While she is working long days, every day her friends and family are posting encouraging messages for her. But, her days are still difficult.
Smith's photo shows how the days wear on her physically, impressions from face masks visible.
Heather Smith is a traveling nurse from Olathe. She VOLUNTEERED to work in one of the scariest places right now, New York City. After a 14 hour day, I spoke to her about what she is seeing and her message to KC. Tonight on @41actionnews #NursesAreHeroes #WeSeeYouKSHB pic.twitter.com/TqT3g8WjI1— Jordan Betts (@JordanBettsTV) April 7, 2020
"I wear two masks. I have a bonnet on my head. We wear eye wear and I double glove," Smith said. "It's miserable. It's very hot and I come out of those rooms dripping in sweat."
41 Action News spoke with Smith on Monday, the same day New York saw its deadliest day of the outbreak with a spike of more than 700 deaths.
"We are the best country in the world. This shouldn't be happening. This shouldn't be happening anywhere. But it's happening and it's reality," Smith said. "So, we just have to deal with it."
While the Kansas City metro is not seeing the same numbers as New York City, Smith said she knows all too well the virus has no boundaries.
"Yeah I am afraid of it happening, and I am afraid for my friends to get sick. I am afraid for my family to get sick. You never know who is going to be the one it effects badly," Smith said.