Ruby Ramoutar said goodbye to her husband and young son in North Carolina after she was recruited to help fight the coronavirus in New Jersey. Now she’s sick, confined in her hotel room, and she says she has been abandoned by the company that asked her to come to the tri-state.
The licensed practical nurse says she traveled 500 miles to Rutherford to work at CareOne at Hanover Township in late March. Ramoutar was recruited by Huffmaster, a Michigan based company that assists employers with workforce management.
She says she would be bussed from her hotel to the long-term care facility to take care of 28 patients, all COVID-19 positive, and she was only given one mask to use for a whole week.
"When you're leaving you had to put [the mask] in a bag and carry it home, and then before you got [to work], take it out of the bag and put it back on," Ramoutar said.
She described having only one protective gown that was being "sweated on and when it would rip, we would take tape and tape it back."
Ramoutar says she fell ill last week and she was taken by ambulance to Hackensack University Medical Center. She wasn't tested for the coronavirus or admitted to the hospital and she had to take a rideshare service back to her hotel. The hospital refused to comment due to privacy reasons.
The nurse says she blames Huffmaster for not properly taking care of her.
"We just ask for them to protect us and keep us safe over here, that's all, and they're not," Ramoutar said. "Right now, the way that we're being treated and the way nurses are losing their lives for little things like not having PPE or not being taken care of once they do become ill, I don't know if it's worth it to come and help."
Ramoutar also says that she had to beg her on-site supervisor for Tylenol and rely on delivery services to get food to her hotel room.
"Nobody's offered to get me groceries. I can't wash my clothes downstairs because I can't come outside. I have to wash my clothes in the sink and put them outside in the balcony to dry," she said.
NBC New York reached out to Huffmaster and CareOne but they have not responded. However, Ramoutar on Thursday said she got a phone call from agency officials who say they want to schedule her for a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.