Jackson Memorial Hospital nurses take on Texas

Three Jackson Memorial Hospital nurses traveled to Texas to work with COVID-19 patients. They got to experience a new environment, financial gain and a snowstorm.

When the pandemic took a turn for the worse in June, many hospitals in states such as New York, Texas and California were in desperate need of nurses. These Jackson staff nurses were contacted, and they took the opportunity.

Rocky Salmon spent two weeks as a telehealth nurse before heading to Texas.

“I believed that Texas needed my help more than Jackson,” said Salmon. “There were more cases of COVID and there was a higher death rate than Florida.”

When Salmon stayed in San Antonio, he found an environment that was diverse like North Miami Beach.

“I had a chance to experience a different city, culture and people,” said Salmon. “I was able to make more connections. It’s an unbelievable experience!”

Anna Saintvil, a nurse who been working at Jackson for four years, agreed that the people in Texas are very respectful and the hospitals are more organized than South Florida’s. The hospitals had better equipment and the supervisors ran the teams more efficiently.

While traveling nurses have to risk their health every day, there are benefits. The financial side particularly appealed to these nurses. Chantal Jean–Philips went from making $4,000 in a month to bringing home more than $40,000. She was able to pay off her mortgage, a new car and contribute to two college funds for her children.

There are downsides.

“While the money was great, it was really hard being away from my family,” Jean–Philips said. “It’s also not always easy working in a new hospital with a new staff, they always think you’re going to steal their job and opportunities from them.”

As Jackson nurses prepared for their return to South Florida in February, the snowstorm hit Texas hard. The winter weather left many hospitals without heat and electricity for days at a time. These three Jackson nurses used their experience and training from Hurricane Irma and applied it to their patients in Texas.

“We were out of power for four days, the dust got mixed in with the drinking water and many of the pipes burst throughout the hospital,” said Jean-Philips. “Felt similar to Irma, there was no gas and you couldn’t find food.”

Others did not experience the same adversity during the snowstorm.

“I was lucky enough to not be hit as hard,” said Salmon. “But I knew exactly what to do for the patients during the storm because of the hurricane training.”

After the snowstorm passed, more Jackson nurses headed to Texas to help with the vaccine distribution.

“I’ve learned a lot in Texas, especially with working with different cultures and hospitals,” said Salmon. “When I come back to Florida, I will be sharing the things I learned and the different policies and equipment that can benefit Jackson in the long run.”

Edvina Paul is a journalism student at Florida International University who hopes to work for a major news site in New York or Washington, D.C. She hopes to use her passion for writing to provide a voice for the public.