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A Duty to Care for Others

Updated: Feb 27

A picture of a young nurse smiling.

When Holly Corbin, a 42-year-old registered nurse, was on her way to her job at the Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital in New York City last September, she took the subway just as she always did. But this night turned out quite differently.

Taking the subway in NYC as a primary means of transportation is very common. Of the 2.1 million who work in Manhattan, 1.2 million take the subway to get to work. Holly was making her routine commute to work when she was unexpectedly accosted by a fellow passenger. He was getting a little too close for comfort when another passenger by the name of Robert Stites, a 68-year-old retired warehouse manager, stepped in and told him off. Although he managed to make the man back off and leave the nurse alone, it was just minutes later that “he got in my face again," said Holly, "and then my heart really started pounding!”

Luckily, the next stop was the usual stop for Holly, and it just so happened that on that evening, it was also the stop for Robert Stites. Stites got off the train first, where he instantly collapsed with a heart attack! Holly saw the man who had protected her collapse, and she immediately went to work, grabbing the station’s defibrillator and performing CPR on Stites for 10-15 minutes until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics took the grandfather of four to the nearest hospital (the same one where Holly worked), and there, heart specialists put a stent in his heart. His wife of forty years reported, “Thankfully, it looks like he’s going to be just fine!” One week after that fateful night, the nurse and her rescuer (whom she ended up rescuing) reunited. “I had to meet her, I just had to,” Stites said. “When someone saves your life, how can you not thank them? But what do you say? There are no words that can thank her enough for what she did for me!” Stites continued, “When we met, I discovered that she’s not only a wonderful nurse but also a very matter-of-fact nice young girl. I'm just so incredibly thankful that she was there when she was and took the time to help me!”

Corbin, however, insisted, "As a licensed nurse, whether I'm on duty or off, I have a duty to care for others, it's just what we do and anybody else would do the same.”

Would "anybody else do the same"?

What would you have done?

For more stories like this one, pick up a copy of Off the Chart A Nurse's Journey

of Heart and Humor at

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