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Health Care Hero: ‘Life is so short. Be kind to others.’

Melissa Mejia
Melissa Mejia

The Dayton Daily News is profiling the people who work hard every day to save lives and take care of us. Nominate a Health Care Hero by emailing Rebecca.Mullins@coxinc.com.

Name: Melissa Mejia

Hometown: Dayton

Job Title: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Where do you Work: Miami Valley Hospital Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Describe what your day is like/what you do: We are a very busy ICU service, especially recently obviously due to COVID-19. Every day, my fellow nurse practitioners and I work very closely with the ICU attendings and medical residents to establish and manage patient care. We help educate the residents; we perform a various number of procedures, including central venous catheter placements, arterial line placements, hemodialysis catheter placements, endotracheal intubations, and so forth. We work very closely with bedside nursing staff to answer questions and guide care. As critical care nurse practitioners, we work a rotating shift; therefore, one day we could be working day shift with the very next shift on nights. It is a very demanding and fast-paced field — our patients are extremely sick and we work our very hardest to give the best care possible.

What inspired you to get into health care? Both of my parents were civil servants; I believe they instilled the will to help others in my brother and I. However, a specific memory that really solidified my goal to become a nurse stems from a time when I was around the age of 7 or 8. My family and I were on our way to my church's Christmas bazaar when a man standing in the middle of the street, covered in blood, stopped us. He had wrecked his car into a tree; his passenger was severely injured and stuck in the car. I was able to witness my father, an off-duty public servant, jump right into damage control and activate appropriate responses. When I saw CareFlight arrive, it was like everything in that moment was going to be OK. And then I knew it — I wanted to be one of those heroes.

Health Care Hero: ‘I became a nurse to make a difference’

What's a memorable experience you've had in health care? I believe the most memorable experience I have had thus far in health care is working throughout this pandemic. I have never seen such a high number of acutely ill patients who have been requiring deep sedation, paralytics and pronation therapy (flipping patients onto their stomachs to improve oxygen levels) 16 hours of the day. These people are going into multi-system organ failure and requiring weeks to improve. I am so (impressed) by the nursing staff who are at the bedside more than all of us, directly managing the sedation, paralytics and various drips that we have to keep these people on in order to keep them alive. Not only that, they are writing inspirational quotes on the windows and they are holding their patients hands. We all have been working so hard during this time, and it's something that I will forever hold in my heart and never forget.

What do you want readers to know about your job right now? Being a health care worker is one of the most humbling jobs you could ever imagine. One day you are sitting at the bedside of a patient, crying, talking about past lives. The next day, you may be pronouncing that same patient's death. I hate to sound so cliche, but life is so short. Be kind to others, help in any way that you may, and don't take your or your loved one's health for granted. Spread love.

Health Care Hero: ‘I really love my job’