U.S. Navy Reserve Nurse Lt. Rob Guerra, a PACU charge nurse at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center (LWRMC), was recently featured in Jimmy Kimmel Live's ongoing #HealthCareHero segment. To thank him for his front-line service during the COVID-19 pandemic, the show surprised Lt. Guerra with a new Ford F-150 and made a PPE donation to the hospital staff.
LWRMC CEO Andy Guz stated, “We are proud of Rob for assisting in New York City during the pandemic, and we look forward to having him back at LWRMC.”
Watch Lt. Guerra's #HealthCareHero Segment
Read About Lt. Guerra's Deployment to New York City to Treat COVID-19 Patients in His Own Words
“I am currently a lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve Nurse Corp and was called up to be deployed to New York City on short notice. I was called on a Tuesday with orders for a nine-month deployment to aid New York with the vast amount of cases they were seeing. By Thursday of that same week, I was already there. I left a wife and two daughters, one of which was only two months old at the time, at home with little time to prepare.
"Not knowing what to expect, I was slightly concerned about whether they would have enough supplies to keep us safe and what the working conditions would be. I was not even sure exactly where I would be or what my role was until my first day. Some of the sailors were sent to hospitals around New York and others were sent to the Javits Convention Center. I was sent to the Javits, which was basically an indoor field hospital that was built to care for well over 2,000 civilians, all of whom had COVID-19.
"Navy personnel worked alongside other medical professionals from the Army, Marines, National Guard and civilian nurses. Initially, we spent 10 to 14 hours in personal protective equipment and were taking care of anywhere from eight to 12 patients per nurse until more reinforcements arrived. Our days were long and exhausting, many of us working six to 12 days in a row with only one day off in between. Thankfully though, we would see a rapid decline in cases and found that we would never care for as many patients as initially was expected.
"My experience throughout this unprecedented time has had a huge impact on me. I realize that as a nurse, you may be put in some of the most difficult and trying positions that one may ever encounter and you will have to find the strength from within to go on and perform your duties to help others.
"The support system that you have is what gets you through these tough times. My coworkers, many of them, chipped in and sent me the largest care package I could have ever imagined with food, drinks and toiletries to last what I thought would be months. My wife, who was left with a newborn and a house to tend to while I was gone, along with online schooling for her and my oldest daughter, rocked it and showed strength and resilience.
"The residents of New York City, every day at 7 pm, would open their windows and cheer, blow horns and bang pots and pans, a simple gesture with an enormous impact that gave us the will to keep fighting another day. This, all coming around a week that is celebrated for nurses, is what makes being a nurse such a rewarding profession that I am thankful to be a part of.”