When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic first hit Los Angeles earlier this year, Kim Hernandez offered to serve on the frontlines. As a 30-year-old registered nurse at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, she volunteered for the hospital’s COVID-19 team and became a nurse case manager for patients who had recovered and were on their way home.
One of the toughest parts of the job, she said, were all the unknowns surrounding the disease — how to prevent it, how to treat it, who survives it and who doesn’t — and not having easy answers for fearful families whose loved ones were admitted to the hospital.
Despite the risks to herself and her own family, Hernandez, who was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. nine years ago, said it was critical for her to do whatever she could for vulnerable patients as COVID-19 case numbers began to climb.
“The very nature of our profession, being a nurse, means it’s a moral and societal obligation for us to step in and help people who really need it at this time,” said Hernandez, also a parishioner at St. John Baptist De La Salle Church in Granada Hills.
Then Hernandez got COVID-19.