This deadly pandemic has brought out the best in many people. One of those people is Ashley Devier, 23, of Fargo. It’s an inspiring story of courage, hope and determination.

Ashley attended Davies High School in Fargo and later transferred to and graduated from Fargo's Woodrow Wilson High. She spent two years as a pre-med student at North Dakota State University, while working as a certified nursing assistant for Sanford Health in Fargo. She’s currently a nursing student at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes, and expects to get her RN degree in December.

When she was confined to her home due to the pandemic, Ashley felt a strong desire to help. So, four weeks ago, she headed to New York City, the American epicenter of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. She’s now working as a nursing assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in the country battling the coronavirus.

“I just had a calling to go out there,” Ashley said. “I felt useless. I needed to do something. People are dying. I needed to help.”

Ashley Devier geared up in her personal protective equipment. Special to The Forum
Ashley Devier geared up in her personal protective equipment. Special to The Forum

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Ashley works exclusively with COVID-19 patients. She provides daily care, including taking their vital signs, lab work and conducting heart tests.

“I’m busy all night long,” Ashley said. “There’s no downtime. We have a lot of patients that can’t do anything for themselves. We have to change them. We have rapid response code blues. I’ve had at least one person die every shift that I have worked.”

For Ashley, it’s gut-wrenching to see the outcomes for many of her patients.

“A lot of people are dying,” she said. “It’s sad. I see a lot of dead bodies. I was expecting that, but it’s still hard. It’s hard when you walk into a room and find that your patients are gone.”

Being on the front lines often leaves Ashley with a feeling of helplessness.

“This is killing a lot of people,” Ashley said. “It’s not a pretty death. We do our best to make them comfortable. People who aren’t ready to go can’t breathe and they choke. You can hear people’s lungs full of fluid.”

Ashley is still bewildered by all of this.

“I treat every patient with dignity,” she said. “I want them to be comfortable. It’s heartbreaking. How is this happening? How is this happening here?”

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Ashley is her bravery. About 85% of her co-workers have been infected and missed work. A nurse manager at Mount Sinai recently died.

“I know I should worry, but I’m optimistic,” Ashley said. “If it’s my time, it’s my time. I don’t like to live with regrets. It’s not really if I get it, but when I get it.”

Ashley Devier said she remains "optimistic," even if she knows she should be worried. Special to The Forum
Ashley Devier said she remains "optimistic," even if she knows she should be worried. Special to The Forum

Ashley emphasizes that people need to take this virus very seriously. That means wearing masks, frequent hand-washing, using hand sanitizer and staying home.

“I’ve seen all these people pass away and I see people that don’t care,” she said. “I see people across the U.S. out drinking with their friends. It’s much too soon. Mass crowds should be banned.”

At some point, Ashley plans to return home and finish her nursing studies. For now, she is doing extraordinary work at a very difficult time and place. She could have stayed here and been much safer, but she incredibly chose to put her life on the line and help out.

“I’m serving my purpose. I’m doing good,” Ashley said. “I’m grateful that I’m here to help this community. There’s a lot of sadness in our days, but at the end of every day we come out of work with a smile. We’re all putting ourselves at risk. I feel mostly gratitude. I’m so lucky.”

We are the lucky ones to have Ashley fighting this brutal virus.