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Respiratory therapist back home from the COVID-19 frontlines: 'it’s a tricky virus,' 'wear your masks'

Pamela Sturgill was stationed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, one of the hardest-hit areas.

HOUSTON — A respiratory therapist from Sugar Land just returned from 13 weeks of working on the coronavirus frontlines in New York City. Pamela Sturgill was stationed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, one of the hardest-hit areas. She told KHOU 11 she's not ruling out returning to work in Houston if needed.

Here's her conversation with KHOU Reporter Grace White.

White: How are you doing? How does it feel to be back home?

Sturgill: I have mixed emotions about being back home, of course, it’s wonderful and I’m quarantining myself but my heart breaks for Houston, that we are so close to being an epicenter for COVID.

White: How were things when you left New York?

Sturgill: Things were better, we were starting to see a little spike again.

White: What did you learn about the virus while you were in New York City?

Sturgill: In the second wave at Elmhurst, we were seeing (more) young people, 30 and 40 and these were people who were muscular and were fit, they didn’t have any underlying health issues.

The only other thing I want to say about COVID in Houston is a lot of people are putting emphasis on that most of our ICU beds are not COVID patients because they started doing surgeries and stuff again, but I have to say we were even seeing that at Elmhurst. We were getting patients in that swabbed negative, but through chest X-rays and CAT Scans, they had COVID and so it’s a tricky, tricky virus.

White: What’s your advice to Houstonians?

Sturgill: Wear your masks please, there’s a Facebook meme that goes around, especially with respiratory therapists that if you think a mask is uncomfortable – you are definitely not going to want to be intubated. So wear your mask, practice your social distancing and wash your hands and that’s the best we can do. If everybody or at least 90% of the population would do that, I firmly believe in my heart, the numbers would go down and our economy could open up.

RELATED: Sugar Land respiratory therapist answers call for help fighting COVID-19 in New York

RELATED: Sugar Land respiratory therapist describes being on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic in New York

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