Nurse, Aventura Hospital & Medical Center
Background: Toquica, 34, was born in Colombia; she moved to Miami in 2000 with lifelong dreams of becoming a nurse. “I grew up in a place where people lacked basic health care resources and services,” she explains. “Seeing that changes you. That’s what inspired me to make a difference.” Shortly after settling in the United States, Toquica vowed to learn English, enroll in college, and dedicate herself to helping as many people as possible by pursuing a degree in nursing. She has worked at Aventura Hospital for the last three years as a medical and surgical nurse. Currently, she is stationed on one of the facility’s dedicated COVID-19 floors.
Pandemic stories: Similar to hospitals around the country, iPads have become the new handholding during the COVID-19 pandemic, Toquica says. These sleek, slender devices are lifelines for patients, especially for those receiving treatment on the COVID-19 floors.
“You truly can’t imagine how difficult it is for patients and families to not see each other and hold hands, especially during a pandemic” Toquica explains. “This technology has become essential for us. It’s the only way patients and families can communicate.”
As a nurse, Toquica not only treats patients, but she also provides vital emotional support. As hospitals prohibit family and friends from visiting patients, she has found herself comforting patients in ways she never anticipated.
“I don’t know how we would do it without this technology,” she says. “Most patients, especially older ones, don’t come in with a mobile phone that has the capability to FaceTime. Patients being isolated from their loved ones is difficult enough.”
Nursing requires Toquica to live life a few steps ahead, anticipating what may come next and how best to prepare. However, working in the field during a pandemic has taught her the importance of slowing down and appreciating the small moments.
“We’re all in such a rush,” she says. “It’s time to appreciate what matters, like a hug, holding hands, or even a smile. With coronavirus, we don’t even have that right now. You can’t see a smile through a mask. Imagine talking to your loved ones for the last time through an iPad. What I know for sure is I will never take these moments for granted again.”
Photo by Eduardo Schneider