Taylor West Moves North to Assist with COVID-19

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Travel Nurse

Many Gamecocks know the name Taylor West '18 from seeing her play her heart out on University Field as pitcher for the softball team, but what some may not know is that she spends a lot of time fulfilling her passion of nursing, and that she recently moved to Bethpage, N.Y. to work in a hospital treating COVID-19 patients.

Taylor West in official JSU softball portrait
Taylor West as a JSU nursing student, in her official JSU softball uniform...

Upon graduating from JSU, West started working at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. After working there for a little while, she started working at Erlanger in Chattanooga. West was at Erlanger for a little over a year, in an ICU step-down unit, when COVID-19 started to spread across the nation.

Once West found out about the dire need of nurses in New York, she knew it was time for her to act.

“Things began to change at Erlanger once Covid-19 came about. I started being floated throughout the hospital because we did not have enough patients to fill our floor. I was not needed at Erlanger at the time and have always wanted to do travel nursing. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to jump right in.”

Taylor West in New York in her Personal Protective Equipment
... and in her personal protective equipment (PPE) and scrubs, working in New York.

West decided in late March to apply online with a couple different travel agencies for nurses. Less than a week later, she signed a contract to go to New York to work. About a month after that, she packed up and moved to start assisting COVID-19 patients.

West took her dog with her and moved into a hotel with a coworker from Erlanger to start her new challenge.

For West, work is always different than it was the day before. She spends most of her time on a Medical/Surgical Oncology floor, but her first few weeks there were strictly COVID-based.

“We stayed in PPE majority of the day, and you really had to learn to cluster your care. I have 5-6 patients everyday with two patients per room. We eventually transferred back to an oncology floor, but we still received COVID patients.”

Taylor West in Times SquareAt the hospital, West has experienced the good and the bad.

“It hasn't exactly been like I expected. It is hard to truly believe until you experience it."

— Taylor West

“It hasn't exactly been like I expected. It is hard to truly believe until you experience it. I believe my worst day here was within the first couple of weeks being here. It just seemed like rapids and codes were being called constantly.

"My best day being here was thanks to one of my patients. His roommate had to be taken out that morning to an ICU. I was able to comfort him in a time of fear, and he gave me much needed encouragement by telling me he believes I was sent here by God for him in that very moment. He then began to share his faith with me. By the end of our conversation we were both in tears… but happy tears.”

West believes this experience is going to do a lot of good for her – including opening opportunities in her career. She has experienced both travel nursing and working during crisis, and it also allows opportunity for her to take a couple months off work to do something else she loves: softball.

West, who came to JSU on a softball scholarship, plans to use some of her time off to go to Georgia and coach softball.

When asked if West would roll the dice and repeat the experience of moving to New York for work, she said: “I would do it again. It has had its ups and downs, but it has been a great adventure. I always love a good challenge, and it has been nothing short of that. I am very thankful for the growth that has come from this.”

West has made a difference in the lives of many, and she still has that Gamecock fight in her heart, too.

— Story by Taylor Cochran, '19

Taylor West pitches
West (3) pitches the Gamecocks to a win over SIU-Edwardsville in 2016, resulting in the Gamecocks' fifth OVC Tournament title. 

Do You Want to Make a Difference?