Sometimes the stories of heroism on the frontlines come at us so fast there’s not enough time to share them. This one from Cherry Health in Michigan caught our eye because it demonstrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected normal routines in health care. Meet Maria Vizcarra, a patient registration specialist at the health center. This is her story:
“Maria Vizcarra knows firsthand just how much COVID-19 has changed daily life – both professionally and personally – for everyone at Cherry Health. As a patient registration specialist at the Heart of the City Health Center, part of Vizcarra’s role requires her to greet patients when they come into the Health Center, but on the frontlines of a pandemic this otherwise routine task is much different.
“This puts us at risk of contracting the virus, so every day that I am at work I have to be extra cautious and extra mindful,” said Vizcarra, who added that she is constantly making sure the waiting room and surfaces are getting disinfected, as well as constantly washing her hands and wearing a mask. “It makes it a little stressful to do your everyday job, but it has to be done in order to stay healthy and to keep people around me healthy.”
This persistent cleaning and attention to hygiene doesn’t stop when her shift is over. When Vizcarra gets home from work, she immediately changes out of her clothes and scrubs, puts everything in the washing machine, sprays down her work shoes and then heads straight to the shower. While it might seem cumbersome, top of mind for Vizcarra is keeping her children and husband from getting sick.
“I tend to believe that I am the pillar at home and that alone keeps me going through these difficult times,” she said. “I have to keep standing strong in order to continue to help my family and in order to continue to help our patients.”
While working the frontlines of the health crisis can take its toll, Vizcarra makes sure to take time for self care. From getting in a 30-minute cardio workout at home each day to cooking for her family and keeping busy with projects around the house, she searches out those opportunities to de-stress and reflect. In those moments, she also remembers to count her blessings to have such a supportive family – both at home and at Cherry Health.
“Everyone works very hard to make sure the needs are met for the patients and for each other. I work with very selfless and very caring doctors and nurses, and that makes me feel very proud of everyone at Cherry Health,” Vizcarra said. “The support that we give each other makes this pandemic so much easier to work through and makes everything so much easier to bear. I have been here for 11 years and plan on 11 more if God permits.”