Local News

Caravan of Love for Nurses at St. Jude Urgent Care

A group of Fullerton residents organized a car parade on Saturday April 18  to show their appreciation, support, and love to the nurses and medical workers at St. Jude Urgent Care in Fullerton.

These residents drove by honking, waving homemade signs, and showering them with love and appreciation during these stressful times. Some also brought the workers pizza and other food just to say thank you.

“We all want to let them know we are thinking of them during this difficult time and all their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Melanie Gutierrez, who helped organize the caravan. “I know they can easily get overlooked. I know many people are donating masks, gloves, gowns and food for the workers at the hospitals and I wanted to also show love, appreciation and support for all of the workers at St. Jude Urgent Care as well. They are front line workers even if they don’t work in the hospital setting.”

The Urgent Care Center gets many patients because some people are too scared to go to the ER at this time. The staff also sees patients who have the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

“It’s great to see how much the community rallies around supporting one another— of course by keeping with our social distancing guidelines,” Guiterrez said. “We went out just to thank them and let them know heroes don’t always just wear capes…they wear scrubs.”

One Medical Worker’s Story

Sent in by Diana Fernandez, PA-C at St. Jude Urgent Care:

I have been asked by a friend to share my story and experience in the COVID-19 pandemic as a medical provider and mother of two young girls 8 years old and 3 years old.  Where do I even begin?  I have been practicing as a physician assistant for 11 years and the last 4 years I have been at St. Jude Urgent Care.

Quite frankly, I have never seen anything like this. One day we were living life as usual then everything had been turned upside down. I’m exhausted not only because of what I do as an essential worker, but also because I have now become a  full-time homeschooler.

My day begins as I put on my scrubs and walk into the kitchen for coffee. My 8-year-old sees the scrubs and instantly runs to me.  She gives me a hug and says, “Mom, I don’t want you to go to work!”

And I respond, “Why? I need to help people.”

She responds back, “I don’t want you to get corona and die.”

Hearing her say this places a hard squeeze on my heart and a knot in my throat. I take a moment to swallow and reassure her that everything will be ok and we all have do our part during the pandemic.

Working as a physician assistant, I constantly have this eerie feeling in the pit of my stomach as I enter a new patient’s examining room.  As I walk in I’m praying they don’t have COVID-19 and praying I don’t get infected.

But the reality is not if I will get infected, but when.  The when is what haunts me. In my mind my healthy days are numbered.  I have been lucky enough to have PPE  provided. I’m very blessed to have N95s donated by family and friends.

Many thoughts have crossed my mind like what will happen to my family if I get COVID-19? Will I live or will my body be too run-down from work and homeschooling to fight the infection?

At times the stress of the day keeps me up at night thinking about my patients.  Telling someone they have COVID-19 is not an easy task; its very similar to telling someone they have cancer and I’m not sure if they will survive.  Not being able to have solid answers or a cure leaves my heart with a sense of hopelessness. The one reassuring factor I give my patients is that I’m here for them and whatever I can do to help, I will do.

At home the dynamics have changed significantly. I find myself obsessively cleaning my home including groceries and mail.  I feel like the main character in the “Monk” TV series. I won’t let my husband do the grocery shopping any more to minimize the exposure.

On my days off I push past the exhaustion because my family needs me. My 8-year-old needs my help, for example, setting up her piano lessons online, answering school work questions, and participating in Zoom meetings with her Girl Scouts troop.

We recently found out that her school district has cancelled all on campus learning the rest of the year and the following days were filled with tears and much resistance to school work. But we overcame this by talking about it and found joy in gardening, riding our bikes around the block for exercise, painting, and playing board games.

My 3-year-old is also very aware of COVID-19 and pouts at not being able to go to the park. I wish I could be at home with my family during these hard times or bonding like everyone else in the world. Instead this has become the most stressful time of my life.

What gives me solace at night when I can’t sleep? That I still have my health therefore I beat COVID-19 one more day. My family is healthy. I have food to eat and a soft bed to sleep in.

I dream of hugging my mom and having a 1-month vacation when this is over (as if that’s really possible…yeah its my dream, right?)

I also think about my favorite Disneyland rides that bring me so much joy, or the smell of popcorn on Main Street and how awesome it would be to be first one in line when they reopen Disneyland, to have their churros and delicious candy apples.

And somewhere between my mental war with Covid-19 and thoughts of Churros I fall asleep.

I have been very fortunate to have great neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends that are constantly checking in on me and filling me with positive words.

The drive-by caravan this past Saturday at St. Jude is a perfect example of this. It was put together by Melanie Gutierrez, which was amazing.  This act of kindness by the community was so special and uplifting. I felt reenergized and in this moment all of my fears and troubles were washed away by tears of joy. I’m so thankful to have the support and love of so many.

I must also add that Orange county residents have been doing a very good job of working together by staying home and flattening the curve. If I could ask all of my patients and the public for something I would say please wear your masks when leaving the house, wash your hands well, continue to stay home and practice social distancing until Governor Newsom and Dr. Fauci state otherwise.

We are here for each other and are stronger together for it.

Diana Fernandez, PA-C at St. Jude Urgent Care

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