Amber in NYC: A Mother’s Day Story

Amber R. is a mother to four kids and an ER nurse. She’s spending this Mother’s Day about 1,700 miles away from her family back in Texas while working in an ER medical trauma unit in New York City – and there’s no place she’d rather be.

“I might not be at home to celebrate with them, but I’m here helping other mommies get back home to their families,” Amber said. “Before I left, I talked with my kids about it, and we discussed that if their mommy was sick and, in the hospital, and there weren’t enough nurses, they would want someone to come and help.”

This is her first-ever travel nursing assignment, serving at a hospital in Brooklyn and living in a building with other healthcare workers. Amber had just finished orientation for a staff position closer to her home outside Houston when the pandemic emerged. She was furloughed because her hospital had to shift its resources.

But she couldn’t imagine sitting at home when there were places that needed nurses, so she started looking for a travel assignment.

“Courtney (Homan) called me, and I just knew TaleMed was the place for me,” Amber said. “I love her so much. She has become like a sister to me. I feel very loved and supported by the entire TaleMed team.”

“When I decided to do this, I took my hands off the wheel and took that leap of faith – God is going to put you where you’re supposed to be. I got the call the next morning saying I was going to New York City.”

She’s working in a standard medical trauma ER. The hospital has patients with COVID-19 as well as those with other emergency needs – injuries, accidents and trauma.

Wall of Love

In her room in New York, Amber’s constructed a wall of love – art projects from her kids, cards and notes from friends back home, and a card from TaleMed wishing her a happy Nurses’ Day. She also has a jar of inspiration, just some quotes and thoughts from friends intermixed with messages from her kids.

“If I have an emotional day, the love wall and those thoughts and messages really help me. I usually read one per day, but sometimes, I take two. That and prayer get me through it,” she said.

She expects her new “You Can’t Quarantine Kindness” T-shirt from TaleMed will become a favorite but wants to keep it in good shape to be able to put it and many of these memories in a shadow box together.

Amber’s had the chance to meet amazing doctors, nurses and medics from New York City and across over the country – Boston, California, Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Tennessee and Louisiana. She now calls them friends.

“We’ve built genuine friendships, and it’s sad each time one of them heads home again. I know that I’ll be in touch with some of them for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s neat to see how we’re different but also similar in so many ways. At the end of the day, the answer to everything is love.”

Being a Mom from Afar

Amber’s balancing being a mom to the kids – ages 7 to 17 – from afar with regular phone check-ins, FaceTime and Duo chats with her kids, extended family and friends. On her off days, she can barely keep up with the phone calls.

“I just cherish every day,” she said. “I can find the good and the positive in everything.”

She’s also gotten the chance to see a few parts of New York City. Although almost everything is closed, she took a ferry to Staten Island – saw the Statue of Liberty on the trip – walked around Times Square and saw the Empire State Building. She has hopes to visit the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial, where they’re offering limited access to visiting healthcare workers like her.

On Sunday, she’ll be working in the ER, but that’s where she wants to be.

“I have never been more at peace with a decision than with the one that I made to be here,” Amber said. “When I think about working on Mother’s Day this year, I’m thinking about the staff nurses at this hospital and that if this is an opportunity for them to get a break and be at home with their families to celebrate, then that’s why I’m here. God had a plan for me.”

COVID-19, Travelers