HARLEM, New York (KGTV)-- A San Diego-based nurse is coming home after spending six weeks helping fight the coronavirus pandemic in New York. Her patients' families and co-workers say she left a lasting impression in the Big Apple.
Registered Nurse, Ana Wilkinson danced her way into the hearts of her patients recovering from the coronavirus and provided comfort to those who eventually lost their battles.
"The hardest thing for me was having the patients pass away without having their family members there at all," Wilkinson said.
Six weeks ago, the UCSD Medical Center ER nurse answered her calling. She left her family and flew to Harlem Hospital in New York.
"I told my husband, 'I'm going to New York' instead of going on our Disney Cruise that we had lined up," Wilkinson said.
It was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in what was called 'America's COVID-19 epicenter.'
"It was to the point that I was a bit overwhelmed," Wilkinson admitted. "Wow, this is legit. This is why I came here to help."
Every day on the graveyard shift, she provided love and support—something no magic pill can cure.
"My last patient who passed away from COVID was last week. And I got so close to the family that they invited me over the next day, after their father passed away, and we had breakfast together."
She cried with them, dined with them, and became a vital part of the patient's family, in the toughest moments of their lives.
Wednesday, she wrapped up her final shift in New York. While it was her dance moves that made her stand out initially, it was her heart that left a lasting impression, earning the love and trust of her new-found East Coast family.
"I've worked with amazing nurses at Harlem Hospital, and they've been my family, and they are a heart of gold," Wilkinson said. "So thank you, New York City, for having me, and I am honored to be part of New York City and Harlem Hospital."
On top of her work in the field, Wilkinson donated three portable vitals monitors to Harlem Hospital before leaving. She returns back to San Diego on Thursday.