FOCUS: The SCHS community pays homage to healthcare workers

During a global pandemic, one of the most crucial roles in battling the virus is that of healthcare workers. SCHS students and their parents who work in the medical field have shared worries since the start of the pandemic. Multiple students said having a medical worker in the family affects their daily choices and routines.

Freshman Charles Prince explained why having a parent working as an emergency room doctor heightened his awareness.

“Her (his mother’s) healthcare job has made me always be careful and aware of the situations I am in,” Prince said. “Hearing first-hand stories from my mom of the patients she sees keeps me cautious to not make any questionable decisions that can ultimately get me hurt.”

Similar to Prince, junior Adam Perez maintains strict precautions when it comes to the pandemic as his mother is a nurse.

“She (Norma Montero Perez) holds us to a higher standard when it comes to safety protocol and social distancing,” Perez said. “We do not let our guard down when it comes to the pandemic. She always reminds us to wear our masks and carry Purell before leaving the house and loves to ask, ‘Did you wash your hands?’”

Like Perez, sophomore Sarah Gibbs specified that having a medical worker as a parent enforces additional health and safety standards.

“I have to be more cautious about how often I go out and who I hang out with because I don’t want my friends to be at risk of getting COVID, or I get COVID,” Gibbs said. “I really only go out if my family needs to go grocery shopping.”

While the lives of healthcare families are affected by safety precautions, parents stated their lives, jobs and mental health have changed dramatically.

“During the pandemic, my family was stressed and worried about my physical, emotional and spiritual well being,” registered nurse Norma Montero Perez said. “No one knew what was happening. Things were changing so rapidly, making things at home very challenging.”

Montero Perez acknowledged that her profession is overwhelming and has caused her additional stresses, mostly surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

“My biggest fear was being exposed to COVID and then bringing it home to my loved ones,” Montero Perez said.

Along with her own worries caused by the pandemic, Montero Perez revealed a change that affected nurses’ work ethic specifically.

“The visiting protocols on all medical floors prohibited visitors. This meant that families could no longer visit loved ones in the hospital, leaving them isolated and alone,” Montero Perez said. “Nurses worked extra hard to make our patients feel well cared for and loved.”

Gibbs’s mother, Malia Gibbs, a caregiver, said her family became more empathetic by observing healthcare workers.

In addition to the emotional impact COVID-19 had on families, precautions, such as routinely sanitizing high-touch surfaces and cell phones, also affected their households. The vaccine, however, has helped ease some restrictions.

“Our safety protocols before we were all vaccinated limited our social interactions tremendously,” Montero Perez said. “My kids could only spend time with friends if they were on Zoom, or if they were outdoors social distancing. No one other than my immediate family was allowed in our home during the initial months of the pandemic.”

With healthcare workers receiving additional responsibilities, many found ways to relieve their stress after a long day of work.

“I would look forward to the moment I was alone in my car and could remove my N95 mask from my face and take a big deep breath,” Montero Perez said.

Along with her break from masking, Montero Perez pointed out that her family provided a sense of comfort after a stressful work day.

“Coming home to a full house because all my kids were home doing distance learning was the best,” Montero Perez said. “Family time and frequent family dinner provided the silver lining during this pandemic.”

After a year of working in the pandemic, Bruins appreciate their parents’ hard work.

“I’m very grateful that my mom is one of many people that take care of these people because if it wasn’t for her, before and during the pandemic, many of them would be suffering in silence,” Sarah Gibbs said. “I appreciate her so much. Even if she’s busy a lot and under stress, she still manages to make every member in this family feel happy and at peace.”