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Tucson respiratory therapist who left for New York to fight COVID-19 takes her battle back home

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TUCSON - In April, Amy Burke left her home in Tucson for New York City.

Burke, 33, a respiratory therapist, volunteered to spend most of her spring providing critical help to patients and colleagues in a Brooklyn hospital ICU.

Burke is now back in Arizona and in an all too familiar setting.

“This weekend was my, the first time that a feeling of, oh, we’re doing this again, kind of struck me,” Burke said.

Burke tells News 4 Tucson she's seeing much younger patients at her hospital in Arizona.

“In their 40s, in their 50s,” she said. “I have patients in their 30s. It’s scary. I’m in my 30s. We don’t have the mass amount of numbers that New York had but our hospitals are still only equipped for the population of Arizona. They’re not equipped for a city with eight million people.”

On the frontline in New York she had a daily mantra.

“It was get to the light at end of the tunnel,” Burke said. “And that light was coming home. I came back to the light at the end of the tunnel and it was just the beginning of the tunnel again. I used to see an end in sight. Now, I don’t really know where that end is.”

This weekend, Burke and her team of colleagues held the hands of a man as he died, taking his last breaths surrounded by the people who did all they could for a different outcome.

“I was at the top of the bed where the airway was and we got real close to him so he could hear us,” she said. “The experience of watching these health care workers be such wonderful, compassionate people is really beautiful. And that person passed away with five health care workers telling him that he was loved and that he did a great job fighting and that it was okay to go now.”

Eric Fink

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