Tampa Bay nurses headed to India to help fight COVID-19

Nurses are always on-call, no matter where help is needed. Now, four nurses from Tampa Bay are joining dozens from around the country to go to where fighting COVID couldn't be more important.

They are headed to South Asia, where daily cases are dropping, but where the need for resources and people is still sky-high.

"Some people would ask you don't let me die, or help me," said Alexandra Chang, a nurse who helped treat patients in New York. "Every day on my commute, as I was walking to the hospital, I would have to walk by the refrigerated trucks."

Jamie Koshko is also a Tampa Bay-based travel nurse. She and Chang have worked all over the country treating dying COVID patients.

"They would go from sitting in the bed talking to you, to coding within minutes," said Koshko.

Instead of cowering, they're trying to conquer COVID half a world away. 

Confirmed cases in India hit a seven-day average of 403,000 on May 8. That number is around 175,000 now but still represents 10 times as many as the US.

RELATED: India reports highest single-day death toll to COVID-19 as cases begin to level off

"We were seeing that they were just beaten down," said Koshko.

Their volunteer group, American Nurses on a Mission, which includes at least seven Floridians, are expecting to leave for South Asia next Monday.

They're hoping to make it to India to help treat patients, but will likely start next door, in Nepal, where travel restrictions are looser.

"They are just overwhelmed, there is no staff, no supplies, they don't have space, there are so many patients and nowhere to put them," said Chang.

All nurses have the instinct to help, and they're proof that instinct knows no border.

"We are educating each other on cultural differences and what to expect, and what it might look like when we get on the ground," said Koshko.

When asked to define success for this kind of mission, Chang says it's about showing that health care and help, are universal languages.

"They are in hell right now, and just having someone say, I'll go to hell with you. I know what that is like and I will stand beside you."

LINK: For more information on American Nurses on a Mission, you can visit their website, which is weareanom.org.