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'Turning Points': VA Nurse and Husband Sailed to New York City to Help in COVID-19 Fight


Like many others, registered nurse Rachel Hartley responded to the need for healthcare workers, but what makes her story unique is how she got to the Big Apple. She and her husband sailed there in their boat appropriately named "Turning Points."

"It wasn't a leisurely vacation sail I'll tell you that," Rachel told CBN News. "It was just a big leap to mobilize and take that step of faith.

Without much hesitation, Rachel and her husband, Taylor, jumped into the deep end, almost literally.

"It didn't take but ten seconds before we both were kind of full bore," Taylor Hartley said.

Rachel was working as a pre-op nurse in Lynchburg, VA, when attention shifted to the pandemic.  As elective surgeries were canceled, she had less to do.  Around that same time, recruiters started calling to see if Rachel would be interested in helping in New York, especially since she had worked as an intensive care nurse.

"And I think the Lord just really put on my heart. 'I've prepared you for this, you have the skills, the training necessary, you're not being utilized where you are, you should go,'" Rachel said.

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After quitting her job, things began to fall into place.  When owners of a New York marina heard Rachel's story, they waived it's $10,000 monthly rental fee. After that, she, her husband, and a friend set sail up the eastern seaboard.  They felt it would be safer than flying, plus they could live on the boat, and host other medical workers in need of housing.

"Especially in the middle of a pandemic, in looking for places to rent up here, we were thinking how special it would be to have our own place for sanity and just for cleanliness sake," Rachel said.

Looking back, the 34-hour trip that landed them in New York on Easter Sunday may have been the easy part compared to what she encountered at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn.

"Things were chaotic," Rachel said. "So many patients, so many people dying. It was just a really tough environment to walk into. I tried to prepare for it mentally but it's really something you just can't prepare for until you see it with your own eyes."

"I was underprepared, especially in the beginning, for how they were going to be emotionally handling the time in the hospital," Taylor said.

The couple says one thing has made the difference -- God's grace.

Rachel Hartley is a Cedarville University alumna - CLICK HERE to learn more about her story on the Cedarville Stories podcast. 

"The unending grace that He gives so I can give it to my patients, and the love so I can give to my patient," Rachel told CBN News. "If I get sick, Lord willing, I'll probably be ok. But even if I'm not ok, no matter what happens to God be the glory."

"I'm very proud of her humility and that act of service and her willingness to take that on," Taylor said. "We're here because we believe God has us on this planet to be disciple-makers."

Rachel's contract expires in the middle of June, but it could be extended, and she's okay with that. She plans to complete her Nurse Practitioner's degree when she returns home and then it's off to the next adventure.

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