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P.E.I. nurse back home after seven weeks working as a nurse in New York City during COVID-19

A Prince Edward Islander who worked as a travelling nurse during the peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic in New York City is thrilled to be back home.

Joshua McInnis, who returned to P.E.I. about a month ago, has had a negative COVID-19 test and has completed his 14 days of self-isolation. And the 31-year-old Pownal native couldn’t be happier.

“I can finally run, swim, I can finally go out and talk to other people, it’s great,” McInnis told The Guardian in a recent interview. “The little things, like having grass between your feet, air that is not smoggy, (not) being shoulder to shoulder with people.”

McInnis, who worked in New York for seven weeks, was recently laid off due to declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“By the end of my work experience there, thank God when I left there was at one point zero deaths in one day, where when I first got there, there were 800 deaths every day,” said McInnis, who has worked at travel nursing jobs before.

He noted some of those positions required him to travel through New York City and he has experience taking a weekend vacation there. But it was a different Big Apple during his last visit.

“I could not believe how empty New York City was,” said McInnis. “They shut down the subways overnight, and everybody was wearing masks wherever you went. Everybody was socially distancing.

“If you talk to anybody in the apartment building, somebody, whether it’s their aunt, uncle or somebody (they knew), died. That would scare people.”

McInnis, who also had to deal with his home being broken into, said there was a lot of unrest in New York City, especially following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.

He said his immediate plans are to stay home for the foreseeable future, which in all likelihood will include at least the next year.

"I enjoyed the travelling aspects of it,” said McInnis. “I was making the American dollar, which was great for the student loan.

“It was fun to see different parts of the world while making money. If I am going back to it, there will be a few things I would change.”

Dog support

McInnis was joined in New York by his two-year-old Golden Retriever, Maisey.

“I wouldn’t have the mental sanity if I did not have her,” he said. “A lot of people thought I was crazy going through travel nursing and were saying, ‘you are getting a dog?’ It’s kind of crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

McInnis said Maisey helped him get his mind off work when he was away from the job. As an example, he pointed to a post-work ritual.

On his drive home, he would always think about what had happened during his shift.

However, that changed once he got home.

“There was this little tree outside and I would tap it …,” said McInnis. “As soon as I tapped that tree, I would shut that stuff off and it would be me and my dog. We would go for a run and that would be the end of it.”

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