BRONX, N.Y. — Before the pandemic, Christina Funk, who grew up in Fargo-Moorhead, said she had the typical crazy busy life with four kids and crazy work schedules before the coronavirus pandemic started. Once it did Christina heard the call and joined others to fight the virus.
Christina is a certified nurse practitioner with intensive care experience and a former graduate of Fargo South High School. She felt pulled to volunteer her services. So she — with hundreds of volunteer medical staff from across the country — traveled to New York City to assist staff at the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.
Christina spent 21 days there volunteering her time. Most of the hospital was staffed by outside volunteers like herself, all helping COVID-19 patients.
"You go there hoping to change everything, but you really can only take care of so many patients at a time on a given day," Christina said.
While volunteering, Christina experienced the highs of lows while working to help patients suffering from COVID-19.
"I haven't had a day where I don't think about the people there, or what is going on," she said. "For sure I was changed by it."
Christina kept a journal of her experience volunteering every day.
"I have not revisited it yet," Christina said. "I don't feel ready, to be honest with you."
In it, she describes the "good days" when loudspeakers played Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" to celebrate the removal of a patient's breathing tube, or the "Theme From New York, New York" to signal a patient was well enough to go home.
"Everyone in the unit would stop what they were doing and cheer, because it was so rare," Christina said.
She also wrote about a time when one her patients held her hand as he left the hospital.
"We both cried," she wrote. "The whole unit gave him a round of applause as he left. It's a rare sight to see."
She also tracked when special teams ran to the bedside of a patient that was quickly crashing.
"Sometimes we fight with them for their lives, but it doesn't (always) turn out that way," Christina wrote in one journal entry. "So we have the privilege to be with them when they pass."
While she volunteered, Christina said it was difficult to be away from her family. She missed loved one's birthdays and phone calls home were often bittersweet.
"We have a five-year-old who struggled the most, because she could not understand," Christina said. "She FaceTimed me and said, 'Mom, can't you volunteer to come home?'.'"
In the end, Christina is glad she went.
"Sometimes we support people through the sickest phase of their journey," she writes. "We may never know how our efforts paid off in the end."