A Salina man has spent the last week helping at the COVID-19 hotspot in America, New York City.
Richard Holmgren, known to many for his traveling “Flying Debris” juggling and comedy show, is driving a bus in the Big Apple, working 12-hour shifts transporting doctors and nurses from hospitals to hotels.
Holmgren tells KSAL News that driving buses is a “side gig” he has. When he was contacted last week and asked if he would be interested in helping out in New York he didn’t hesitate to say yes, especially since his “Flying Debris” act is grounded indefinitely.
Holmgren says the medical professionals he is transporting have come to New York from all over the country to help, just like he has.
Some of the stories the doctors and nurses tell him are heartbreaking. Holmgren says one nurse in particular has taken it upon herself to stay with patients as they die. “They are isolated, no one can be with them, so she stays with them so they don’t have to die alone”, he said. Earlier this week he transported her back to her hotel after she had finished a shift where six of her patients died.
Holmgren said another nurse told him a story of hope. A patient who was close to death was in contact with his wife over the phone. When it appeared the end had come, the patient somewhat miraculously perked up and continued to cling to life when his wife yelled at him.
Nearly 82,000 people in New York have tested positive for COVID-19, and over 4,700 have died.
Holmgren says he plans to stay in New York for as long as he is needed. He was told it could be anywhere from two-weeks to two-months. Though he is taking all off the appropriate precautions, he worries for his own health, and believes that he will at some point contract the virus.