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Healthcare Heroes: Their Inspiring Stories

Inspired by the courageous stories from the front lines of those fighting against COVID-19, we created the Celebrating Healthcare Heroes Giveaway where we asked our customers to nominate a healthcare hero they know by sharing a story that touched them in some way. We were overcome by their responses. Their remarkable stories (and others we thought might inspire you) are below.

Michelle Albert-Dean nominated by Steph Medeiros

“We have to wear all the gear at work all day…N95 mask (which FDA says is not good for you if reprocessed according to an article I read today) surgical mask on top of that, goggles, face shield, hair bonnet…and so on. I have a splitting headache from the vice grip that is my helmet/face shield. People just want to do whatever they want… not be told what to do, to mask, to social distance etc. Don’t you worry though. We will still be all geared up and ready to take care of you when you are sick. For those that are asymptomatic and not obeying the guidelines and you go about your business, possibly making someone else sick, like someone’s elderly parent or grandparent or just your average everyday middle aged person like myself… we will take care of those people too.”

DeAnna Booker Smarjesse nominated by Emily Lay

“She started out as a paramedic and is now an RN. She has worked in the ER for years but has studied and transitioned into being the medical rep for child abuse, human trafficking, and rape victims. She was recognized in New Orleans for reaching the apex in her field. She is passionate about her patients and family.”

Megan F Olson nominated by Allison Anderson

“My friend Megan lives in Minnesota. When the COVID-19 epidemic started she got her hours cut as a Kidney RN. Then she went to another department and got 0 hours. Then she has been on unemployment for 6 weeks.”

Mari Negron nominated by Raul Cruz

“She has not stopped working since this pandemic hit, she has been helping and taking care of many patients saving their lives. She doesn’t stop and not only that she’s a single mom and continues to do it all plus make sure her kids get ahead and do the right thing. I may be a hero as in military sense, but she is definitely a hero in my eyes. And she deserves this.”

Marissa Mason nominated by Melody Oloughlin

“My daughter is a nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. She has been working on a COVID floor during the pandemic. She is a kind, sweet, caring, and empathetic nurse. She has a brother with MD and grew up helping when he was ill or just needed help with breathing treatments while we were working. She goes out of her way to help others. She is my hero! She has only been a nurse for 2 years and has been through more than most have bearing in the field for years. I have so much respect for nurses.”

LindaJo Hull Sanders nominated by Linda Dickens

“She is a traveling CNA. She has been sent to COVID hospital all over the nation working as long as 52 days straight without a day off. She may get to see her family once a year. She is very dedicated to her patients.”

Ruby Garcia Ballin nominated by Selena Valverde

“My hero is my Sister Ruby! She’s been in the medical field since she was in her 20’s starting with no training. She worked her way up from CNA to just completing nursing school. She has worked in Emergency Rooms and wanted to further her education. She has worked through so many obstacles to get to where she is now and has pushed herself for her dream of being a nurse. She has 5 children of her own and one bonus daughter that she has cared for while sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs and going to school. She deserves this pendant and I know she will wear it with pride. I know she chose this career because of the impact she can have on the people she treats. She is always the first to the hospital when one of our loved ones are there to check on them and makes sure they are receiving the proper care needed. She hates to see people mistreated while in a care setting. I hope she gets it, but I know in this time of health care need there are many heroes. Good luck to all who enter.”

Ashley Snyder nominated by Valerie Brunt

“Ashley, an RN, left her family and worked non-stop through the biggest part of the pandemic. She always kept a smile on her face. Assisting wherever needed. Her primary job is home hospice care, but she stepped up and continued where needed helping. She left her family, husband and three children with her mother and sisters so she would not infect them. She is kind, caring, and very positive. She would call my husband and I everyday making sure we also were ok and if we needed anything on her way home. She deserves to be recognized for her service during and continuing care she has given and has shown.”

Robin K. Barnett nominated by Karen Barnett

“Robin just finished her nurse residency and started her OR duties. Her fiancé of 5 years was killed in an accident on April 4 of this year. She has 4 children and studying for BSN at Texas A&M. They just moved into a new house they picked out together. Now she is working full time, raising 4 children, going to school, and looking for a new home. They were going to be married in October. I would like to nominate my daughter. She is my superhero for all she has gone through. She is the strongest person I know.”

Amy Tomkiewicz nominated by Linda Hale

“Amy Tomkiewicz is my daughter. She works for Elliott hospital in Londonderry N.H. as a medical assistant. Since the coronavirus began she has been constantly working. She worked in the ICU unit at Elliot in Manchester N.H. while others were laid off, she still worked full time. She is truly dedicated to her work.”

Jennifer Sprung nominated by Kelly Sprung

“My beautiful daughter is a RN in Pittsburgh she works 7pm-7am in the ICU unit 3 days a week. She is an extremely compassionate person. She is in the direct lines with covid daily she never complained about it. I feel she goes above and beyond for her patients and family. Myself and her dad contracted covid, she was on the phone every 2 hours contacting us, sending us groceries. It really upset her she couldn’t fly home to take care of us. We are fine now. This is why I want to nominate my beautiful 23 year-old daughter.”

Dianne Fernandez nominated by Ion Longid

“Dianne is a Nurse Practitioner for City of Hope. She has dedicated 7 years of her life being a nurse. Her work involves caring for cancer patients and sometimes cancer patients who may be at risk for covid-19. The hospital has been experiencing shortages in personal protective equipment and one mask is provided per shift to care for the patients. She makes the best of her shift using what she has and still cares for patients like she always does. She often gets emotional seeing the patients who are not able to have visitors due to the strict hospital policies. She not only cares for the patients but also makes time to be able to talk with them as they may feel lonely. She has been a dedicated nurse and friend for her patients and I feel like she deserves to be nominated.”

Kayla Kleinfelter nominated by Brianna Akins

“Kayla works at Manor Care which is a retirement home in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She always goes above and beyond to take care of all of her residents and works as much as she can always picking up shifts. She treats the residents like her own family and would do anything for them. I think she is a great person and nurse and deserves to be recognized for her loving, caring, and hardworking attitude!”

Elisa Maldonado nominated by Heather Huddleston

“She’s an RN who works with the elderly, she stayed working throughout this pandemic being at high risk herself. She contracted covid19 and still worked coordinating care, making wellness calls, and dropping off supplies to her clients. She’s lost a lot of patients due to this pandemic; she’s cried for every single one. If there is anyone deserving of the title Hero, it’s my mother Elisa.”

Kelly Riker nominated by Maria Fiorenza

“I want to nominate Kelly Riker. Kelly is a nurse at a nursing home in Westchester County. Every day she comes to work she goes above and beyond. But recently she has been a definition of a superhero, a role model, just a very strong individual. Kelly had a battle with breast cancer. During her battle she been coming into work every day and fought through the physical and emotional pain. On top of everything else they threw in a pandemic to see what else she can handle. Covid-19 has not only affected the residents but her as well, however it has not stop Kelly. She beat covid it while continue to battle everything else that has been going on in her life. She is truly is amazing and deserves so much.”

Emily Acosta nominated by Leticia Vazquez

“Emily NP, an essential worker, a wife, a mother, a daughter and sister, suffered the loss of many friends, co-workers and every day faced the day head-on to attend to patients. During this Covid-19 Emily worked and attended school, graduated Nurse Practitioner and through it all, her main concern were the patients. She felt like an unfit parent and wife as her attention was focused on helping others, but of course we all understood.  While studying for her Masters, she would drop her books at any given time if the Hospitals needed her assistance. Emily is a very dedicated and loving human who puts her patients well-being first. I have seen her struggles, her ups and downs in this career but you could never tell by her attitude and her need to help others.  Emily Acosta more than deserves this nomination.”

Jordan Scott nominated by Karen Scott

“Hello, my name is Karen. I wish I was good with words. My hero is my daughter Jordan who is 23 years old. Jordan works at our local hospital Ashtabula County Medical Center. During this pandemic Jordan has been pulled from her floor to working in the emergency room. Jordan loves her job and her patients and that has made this mom very proud. I have never been so proud of her. I know my daughter could have turned it down for I have stage 4 ovarian cancer and she takes care of me. Jordan worked. Jordan delivered groceries to my porch. We visited through the storm door. Jordan normally goes to all of my doctors appointments. Right now she is working on her normal floor. Jordan is back taking care of her mom. Nobody should have to ask their 23-year-old to be their POA or to sign your living will. I most likely will not be alive when she gets married. So we have made an appointment to try on wedding dresses. So we make the most of our lives together.”

Hailey Marie Sorenson nominated by Penny Yagich

“My Granddaughter works in a Nursing home which was heavily overcome by COVID 19. She suited up and wore 2 masks, one the NR95 and another one to keep the NR95 clean. She didn’t see her daughter for 2 months to keep her safe. Her husband was away helping out in New Jersey. It was very stressful for her, but she went to work every day as scheduled because she feels the residents are her family. When she lost one to COVID, again it broke her heart. This young lady is an amazing, caring, and loving nurse. She used her own phone to face time so her residents could talk with their families.”

Lisa Renzulli Cabibbo nominated by Dalia Myer

“I nominate my dear bestie friend Lisa because she is not only a perfect wonderful friend, she has a beautiful heart and soul and loves her nursing job even though terrified during this awful pandemic. Her daughter and her have worked the Covid floor throughout this pandemic and Tuesday of this week… my dear friend suffered a heart attack. Lisa is only 55 years old and is now admitted to ICU to check out why she is suffering from chest pain and anxiety from the unknown. Please include Lisa in your prayers also.”

Angel Woofter nominated by Marsha Holloway

“My sister Angel has been a nurse for a least 14 years or more and she works hard to keep her patients safe and happy. Angel loves going in to help people. She works at University Hospital and loves it. Since this epidemic she works harder, and we have not seen her because she wants us to be safe. I miss her so much, just wish I could hug her but I can’t. And I know she loves and misses her family but like she said she is doing something she loves helping her patients get better. She is the best.”

Amanda Barro nominated by Morgan Davis

“Amanda Barro has been a nurse for over 10 years. She works 7 days a week, some days doubles. She has worked all throughout the pandemic specifically in Covid positive facilities. During her free time, which she mainly doesn’t have, instead she gives up sleep, she is the team mom for her son’s football team and donates to various organizations like food banks.”

Karen Magers nominated by Amanda Lawler

“My local healthcare hero is my Aunt Karen. She has worked hard her entire career but especially now, as a nurse in Bloomington, IL. She now is the manager at her surgery center and has worked tirelessly in the last few months to provide the safest, cleanest, and best support for both her staff (fellow nurses), doctors, and patients coming in for surgery. She has done this without any complaining, knowing that she is needed for her patients to stay as healthy and happy as possible.  Outside of work and in a normal world, she is a big shopper and loves jewelry!”

Haley Folsom nominated by Judy Eberhardt

“Haley is a hospice nurse. She is there for her patients in their final part of their earthly journey. It is hard knowing that your patients will die. She makes sure they are comfortable and is there for the family to prepare them for what is to come. Covid-19 made her job harder. She was denied access to her nursing home patients. The families at home were afraid that she could unintentionally bring the virus into their homes. Her patients could no longer see her face because of the PPE. It’s been tough, but Haley is tougher!”

Crystal Talley nominated by Sherry Lynch

“My daughter has put herself through college and graduated with a degree from Georgia. All through college she developed CVS (Cystolic Vomiting Disease) she never gave up or quit as much as she was sick she constantly stayed in hospital, ER or doctor’s office. She had some very tough days weeks and months. She endured at times she was ready to throw in the towel and give up. She didn’t. God helped her through all of it. Now she is working full time in the lab at a hospital and going to college again to get her bachelor’s degree.”

Kelly McEvoy nominated by Diane King

“I nominate my daughter. She worked 2 jobs and kept very high grades to get her education sacrificing so much. She then worked several years often working through many disappointments in life. She worked tireless hours. Went back to school so she could help even more people. Always advocates for her patients and worked through personal loss as well as personal issues not letting on to others. She has a huge heart, tries to advise others if they ask in a professional manner.  She is careful especially with her family to not expose anyone to anything she may be exposed to, often meaning not being around family and loved ones. Such a giving, caring, hard working person who gives her all even in these challenging times as a front liner. She is a caring daughter, sister, friend and family member. Such a hard worker always.”

Michelle Benjamin nominated by Shawn Steenburgh

“I would like to nominate my daughter Michelle Benjamin.  My daughter is a Registered Nurse currently working full time on the front lines traveling down to New York City weekly working directly with the COVID-19 crisis on a medical surgical unit at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, while continuing to work her primary full time job as a psychiatric nurse at Coxsackie Correctional facility- a maximum security prison.  She is also a Marine Corps Veteran who honorably served our country with (1) overseas tour in Japan, and (1) combat tour:  Operation Iraqi Freedom.  She followed by serving as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Security Specialist for two years.  My daughter’s constant dedication and selflessness to serve our nation is undeniable.  I would like to see her be recognized for her continuous efforts, as I pray daily for her safety during such uncertain and devastating times.”

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