Posted on: April 8, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Christian Sandoval

JRN 111 Student

This story is about the real heroes that fight the coronavirus to secure everyone’s well-being as we are living during an historic pandemic. Moraine Valley nursing professors and students are among them. 

“Moraine has done a great job teaching their students to become nurses,” says Kimberly De La Torre, a nursing student who also works at Little Company of Mary in Evergreen Park, where she is a patient care technician. She expects to graduate in a few weeks.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic closing in on Chicago, nurses and other medical professionals face danger every day, but that isn’t keeping them from their chosen field.

 “I just want to get in the field and help out as much as I can,” DeLa Torre says.

Nursing student Kimberly De La Torre is ready to get into the field and help.

Moraine has a highly regarded nursing program, with 90 percent of graduates working after graduation, according to the college’s website. The program includes clinical experiences in hospitals and community settings during the day, at night or even on weekends.

Nursing professor Leslie Moyar has been teaching at Moraine for almost three years. She is also a nurse at Saint Bernard Hospital. Normally, she would take students to local hospitals for their first clinical, but due to to COVID-19, she can’t, she said. Instead, Moraine has purchased a program that provides students a virtual clinical.

“It’s software that allows students to interact with virtual patients,” Moyar said. “They can ask questions and document answers and assessment findings.”

Moyar is on call, which means the hospital may call her in to work, but she is willing to help out while the State of Illinois is in need of more medical help.

Moyar was once an accountant for a few years, but as she grew in the company, she discovered her love for helping people and wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, so she pursued a career in the medical field. She was also doing it for her children, including a daughter who has a health problem. 

Other health care professionals who are not associated with Moraine also are committed to serving during this crisis.

“There have been days where I wanted to quit, but my heart is in nursing,” says asthmatic nurse Jacqueline Renteria, who works at an urgent care clinic in a COVID center.

“At first it didn’t have an effect on me until I personally came in direct contact with three confirmed COVID-19 patients,” she said. “At that point I thought of not only myself as an asthmatic nurse, but my asthmatic daughter as well.” 

With the determination to pursue a career in the medical field, Dyeaska Sierra hasn’t given up just yet. She is a cardiology technician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.

“This is what I signed up for,” she said. “I just want to help out as much as I can and do my part. Even if it’s in a department where I have no idea what to do, I’m willing to train and get to it.” 

Staying safe in a dangerous time

During this COVID-19 crisis, everyone that works in the medical field is taking precautions seriously. 

As a professor in nursing and a nurse in a local hospital, Moyar is especially concerned with safety.

“We wear gloves and surgical masks,” she said. “We must be six feet away from people, and even when we are close to patients so that they take their medication, we must take safety measures.”

Renteria says the clinic where she works is taking precautions by triaging and treating patients that come in with upper respiratory infections.

“That way, we limit any exposure to not only to ourselves, but to other patients that are coming in for other medical conditions,” she said. 

De La Torre says safety is paramount for her as well.

“My hospital isn’t accepting any visitors for any patients to see their friends or loved ones,” she said. “Before we start or leave for the day, our temperature is taken. That way we are checked to see if we have been infected before or after our shifts.”

For Sierra, COVID-19 has not only affected her job, but it has also affected her place of work.  

“Every morning employees and visitors get their temperature screened before entering the hospital and before leaving as well,” she said. “We have personal protective equipment ready to go. We have tons of materials that include masks, n95 masks, eye protection, gowns, gloves.”

Even heroes need help

Since the government has taken a while to warn people of health hazards, these medical personnel want everyone to do what they can.

“It’s sad. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better,” Sierra said. “I do believe the government knew exactly what was going to happen, but waited too long to prevent it from spreading.” 

Renteria agrees: “This entire situation was handled carelessly at first, and this is why it got out of hand. People are not handling this appropriately. Social distancing is the norm now, and people need to take this seriously and stay home.” 

Many people are getting their information on social media, but Moyar cautions against that.

“Don’t believe everything you hear on social media,” Moyar says. “There is no miracle drug being created to fight COVID-19. It will take a whole year to create a vaccine to fight this virus. People should be prepared for anything.”

Health care workers are the real heroes, but they need everyone’s support.

De La Torre urges people to take COVID seriously. “Go outside if needed, eat healthy, get enough sleep, maintain social distancing,” she says. “If you’re sick, don’t go out and infect people. Make the most of the situation. Use this time for well-being. Who knows if you have another semester?”

One thing’s for sure, she says: “This semester will be a story to remember.”

Christian Sandoval can be reached at sandovalc9@student.morainevalley.edu.