Portneuf Medical Center nurses

Last week two local nurses headed to New Jersey to help treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Jill McQuary and Brittiney Curzon have been with Portneuf Medical Center for a combined 24 years, and are now working 12 to 13 hour shifts at Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center.

Portneuf officials say McQuary and Curzon say they feel safe and supported and have plenty of personal protective equipment.

McQuary and Curzon will spend up to two weeks in New Jersey and isolate for 14 days when they come back.

The Washington Post reports over 44,000 cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey.

As for Portneuf Medical Center’s own preparations for a surge of COVID-19 patients, officials say the hospital started getting ready in January, and as a level two trauma center, personnel are used to high acuity patients.

Hospital officials say what happens depends on how closely the community follows social distancing guidelines.

"We talk about nurses and the healthcare team being the front line staff. That's kind of shifted now to the community becoming the front line,” says Amy Hemsley, RN, MSN, and Director of Critical Care Services for Portneuf Medical Center.

 “They are going to be key and instrumental in making sure that we don't see that surge of patients here in Pocatello."

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