Knicks city dancer, registered nurse now working nights in ICU caring for COVID-19 patients

A woman was living out both of her passions, an intensive care unit nurse by day and New York Knicks city dancer by night -- right up until coronavirus changed all that.

News 12 Staff

Apr 24, 2020, 9:40 AM

Updated 1,540 days ago

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A woman was living out both of her passions, an intensive care unit nurse by day and New York Knicks city dancer by night -- right up until coronavirus changed all that.
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Tara Rappleyea, of Sayreville, is a registered nurse now working nights in the ICU at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, where she's been caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients.
“We have to change our mindset a little bit before you just run into a room,” says Rappleyea. “We have to remember to take care of yourself and be sure you are protecting yourself, regardless of what the patient is doing and regardless of how urgent it is that you get into the room, we just have to keep making sure you take care of yourself.”
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Rappleyea has also worked for the past four years as a dancer for the Knicks. Since NBA games have been put on hold, her focus is to help to save lives.
“When we do have those patients that are really aware or you can tell that they're scared, and when you go into the room you try to make sure that you come off really comforting and just make them feel safe, because when we go in there we're covered from head to toe [and] in the only thing they can see are my eyes," says Rappleyea.

Rappleyea says she misses the dancing in her life because it offered the perfect stress reduction from her front-line job at the hospital. It was the first year she was doing both simultaneously.
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“I miss it a lot, it’s definitely a big outlet to let out your emotions especially when it comes to nursing and what I see here it’s a great way for me to just release all that,” says Rappleyea. “So, I’m definitely missing it.”
For now, the focus remains nursing and helping people in need, but never losing sight of when she can dance and entertain inside the world's most famous arena once again.


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