The 33-year-old full-time registered nurse worked even on his days off as he wanted to make sure no one in his community would be deprived of professional medical care due to race or social status.
Dwayne Brown was working 20-hour shifts at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City. However, his workday wouldn't be done even after he completes his shifts at the Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center as he'd then go to check on his friends and family members who showed signs of the illness. The 33-year-old full-time registered nurse worked even on his days off as he wanted to make sure no one in his community would be deprived of professional medical care due to their race or social status.
"I live in Flatbush, it’s mostly a Caribbean area, and I really like to care for people within my community because most of them are disenfranchised and they don’t have a lot of education, there’s a lot of poverty and a lot of crime and violence so as a nurse and as a good nurse, I really wanted to stay within my community and help them and show them love," Brown told The New York Post. He began using any time he got after his shifts at the Brownsville hospital to care for his loved ones when his mother and a few friends and coworkers contracted the virus.
The Jamaican native explained: "I wasn’t even resting on my day off, even though I am off my main job I am still working. I am here walking to my friends’ houses to make sure they are fine. I was basically working seven days a week. Paid and unpaid." Brown revealed that the workload was a lot to handle at the peak of the health crisis in the city when he was working 20-hour shifts on an almost daily basis. He even worked for 24 hours straight at the hospital once due to a shortage of nurses.
NEW: NYC Health Dept has published, for first time, data on covid-19 death rate by zip code.— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) May 18, 2020
Confirms dramatic inequality, with death rate in low-income communities of color more than ten times greater than wealthier ares. pic.twitter.com/SUuGuMYR0K
"I came in to help the night shift and there were only 3 nurses at night and usually there’s like 11 or 12 nurses," he recalled. "I had 19 patients... it was very stressful trying to keep everybody alive." He remembers one particularly heartbreaking encounter from these hectic shifts when he was able to resuscitate a patient who went into cardiac arrest only to lose her shortly after. "I was the only person in the room so I had to scream for help so we could call back another code," he revealed. Although he performed chest compressions for 20 minutes to try and resuscitate her again, the woman ultimately succumbed, leaving him in a catatonic state.
The people suffering the most from COVID-19 are low income, people of color and immigrants. That’s the reality. On top of that, they’re also being hit with an economic crisis.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 19, 2020
"I was not ok, I was really mortified and I was really saddened," the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences graduate shared. "It left me really shaken up, I am thinking of myself and my family and my friends and also the 18 other patients I have to care for. My objective that night was to keep as many patients alive [as possible], I was going from room to room screaming ‘keep the mask on’ [for patients on BiPAP machines] it was very stressful." Even when the sun rose the next morning, Brown's work wasn't finished as he then went straight to his mom’s house on Long Island to bring her the vitamins she needed.
After dropping the vitamins off and checking on his mother, Brown went to a fellow nurse’s home to care for her. "When it comes to people and helping people, that’s basically my destiny," he said. I always say, I did not choose nursing, nursing chose me... some people get joy in caring for people, that’s me."
As #nursesweek concludes, we're grateful for the brave nurses who risk their lives to protect us. NYC Healthcare Heroes, launched by Debra & Leon Black,@aramark, @robinhoodnyc, @nycmayorsfund, & @americanredcross - extends our thanks nurses on the front line, today & every day. pic.twitter.com/Vs64pfMfSk— NYC Healthcare Heroes (@NYCHealthHeroes) May 12, 2020