OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) - A 29-year-old Overland Park man had just landed his dream job as a college football coach the first week of March when he found himself in the middle of a nightmare inside a busy hospital in New York at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alex Charlton landed a coaching gig at Mid-Western State in Wichita Falls, Texas, the first week of March. The former football and baseball player for St. Thomas Aquinas High School had always dreamed of coaching, and finally it was happening.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed everything and Charlton, who also happens to be a nurse, jumped in.
“Right away I’m like, you know I have a nursing degree and there’s people out there who need help,” Charlton said.
So off to New York he went, where for the last ten days, he has helped the sickest of the sick in a city so hard hit.
Charlton says the worst part is seeing the patients so sick and so scared with no family to comfort them.
He often finds himself in the role of a surrogate family member, sometimes just sitting and holding someone’s hand.
“I always look at myself in their shoes or somebody I know in their shoes and just how would I deal with that and it’s just it’s a frightening feeling that’s probably the worst I feel is when I see that,” Charlton said.
Making an already tough situation even worse is the fact that Charlton’s nursing group was told they’d be at one hospital and instead were transferred to another about 100 blocks away from where he’s living.
So now Charlton is forced to put himself at even more risk by taking the subway and city buses to get to and from work.
“So that makes you nervous. I wear a mask, I wear gloves, I don’t sit and I stand the whole time, so it’s not on my clothes,” Charlton said.
And there are bright spots too, like when New Yorkers lean out their windows every night at seven to cheer on healthcare workers changing shift.
Charlton says by far the very best feeling is handing someone their discharge papers. Something that happens more often than most of us realize.
“That’s your favorite conversation to have, is you’re good enough to go home,” Charlton said.
Charlton is supposed to stay in New York through May 30 but says he’s happy to go beyond that order and will go to any other city where his help is needed.