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Buffalo ICU nurse gets surprise phone call from Elizabeth Warren

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Kyle Brown- COVID-19-pandemic-Buffalo General Medical Center-Scull

Kyle Brown, a 24-year-old nurse, cares for Covid-19 patients in the ICU at Buffalo General Medical Center. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

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The call Wednesday came through Kyle Brown's phone, like the previous time, as No Caller ID.

Elizabeth Warren, the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts and former presidential candidate, wanted to talk again.

The first time she called, on Feb. 14, she thanked Brown for his $5 contribution to her campaign – his first political contribution ever. Her call to him was one of the many personal calls Warren livestreamed on Twitter before dropping out of the presidential race in early March.

On Wednesday, Warren had something else to talk to Brown about: his work as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Buffalo General Medical Center.

"She asked what it has been like taking care of Covid patients, and wanted to know if our health care institutions are taking care of us, and if we are safe and protected when we take care of these patients," Brown recounted.

"She asked if we have the capabilities in place to implement testing for Covid, and also to be able to test health care workers who are exposed to Covid and potentially require testing," he said.

Brown, who grew up in Randolph in Cattaraugus County, became one of the first volunteers to work with Covid-19 patients in a section of his unit at Buffalo General Medical Center. Now the entire unit has been dedicated to treating patients with the novel coronavirus.

In the beginning, the staff had concerns about whether the hospital had enough supplies, Brown said. But that hasn't turned out to be a problem. Nurses working with Covid-19 patients are also paid $10 more an hour as hazard pay.

"We are protected and morale is high," Brown said.

But the work can be emotionally trying.

"One of my colleagues on night shift was telling me last week that there were four patients who passed away in one night from the virus," Brown said. "When you have that, it's a little chill-provoking."

He deeply appreciates the community support for medical professionals.

"It's been absolutely incredible how much we have received," Brown said. "Probably for the last two weeks every single meal has been taken care of by local restaurants and local businesses."

Brown is a bit astonished that Warren reached out to him again, saying it shows how much she cares about health care workers. She won his support for president because he found her to be prepared and trustworthy.

"I definitely have a special place in my heart for Elizabeth Warren," Brown said. "You'd think she'd fall out of the spotlight, but she's right there on the front lines composing policy to not only protect our economy but health workers who are taking care of Covid-19 patients.

"For her to take time out of her day to reach out to a nurse that works in Buffalo, N.Y., to see how everything is going in regards to Covid, is pretty remarkable," he said.


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