Two thousand four hundred and sixty-eight miles. That’s the distance Luke Mayes, an acute dialysis nurse with DaVita Kidney Care, traveled from his home in Boise, Idaho to serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.
In late March, Mayes left his husband and children behind to care for patients in the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I’m just a guy with a big heart,” said Mayes. “I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive family that is making the sacrifice of holding down the fort at home, so I can assist with the massive needs across our country.”
Working in a regional hospital just outside New York City, Mayes has seen nurses who are tired beyond measure. They’re working multiple 12-hour shifts in a row. Mayes shared that his experience has been intense and emotional, but he feels safe, valued and appreciated. Policies and procedures related to PPE are followed to the letter. And despite everyone around him wearing a mask, Mayes can tell people are smiling through their eyes.
According to Mayes, the nurses he has encountered are truly rock stars. “I see nurses being trained quickly in new skill sets. They find themselves as new ICU nurses with four or five patients each. Normally, ICU nurses have a maximum of two patients and only one if they are very sick.”
COVID-19 hasn’t changed the specifics of Mayes’ job. He still provides life-sustaining care to critical dialysis patients in the hospital. But he’s had to learn to function differently, based on hospital guidelines and working with a new set of nephrologists in a different state. His new team has been incredibly supportive and provided just the right help when he’s needed it.
The patients Mayes cares for are grateful for his compassion and service.
“One of my patients was successfully weaned off a ventilator,” recalled Mayes. “As he came through his sedation, I told him how much I wanted him to keep fighting, and that I came all the way from Idaho to help him fight and continue his dialysis treatment. He nodded his head and then reached out, grabbed my arm and said wow, thank you so much.”
It was a moment Mayes will never forget.
“I came to New York to help my teammates because I felt like this was the best way I could serve God and my fellow man, and I wanted to make a huge difference.”
Mayes recently posted a video on Facebook sharing his experience as a nurse helping in this tremendous time of need. It’s been viewed more than 68,000 times, shared over 3,600 times, and is filled with hundreds of comments commending Mayes for his bravery.