LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — On Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, USC Verdugo Hills Medical Center held an “Honor, Remember and Heal” memorial service for the 99 people who died at their hospital from COVID-19 this year.
The hospital encouraged all employees to attend and reflect on lives lost, and to discuss the terrible impact this year has had on staff.
Registered nurse Melanie Cusi placed a white rose in the Healing Garden at USC Verdugo Hills Medical Center in honor of each of the coronavirus victims who’ve died at the hospital.
“It’s just not going to come easy for us to heal. It has to take time,” Cusi said.
As the pandemic changed the way the world operates, Cusi says it changed her too and left her with trauma that’s hard to unpack.
“I cried myself to sleep. I would just tell my husband, don’t worry about me. Just ignore me. I just need to get this out. So those are the trying moments that I have,” Cusi said.
USC Verdugo Hills Medical Center, like every other hospital in Southern California, was overwhelmed at the height of the coronavirus surge with an influx of sick and dying patients like they’ve never seen before.
“It’s difficult to grapple with painful memories,” registered nurse Jessica Thomas said. “So, just taking a moment to realize that this is a process. And this is the beginning of the process. It’s important to remember it’s been a terrible year.
Doctors, nurses and volunteers helping out with medical needs are all dealing with the grief they carry from those grueling months of the pandemic and losing patients to the virus over and over again.
“Too many times, we don’t take that time to take care of ourselves and really reflect and think about what it means to us,” Thomas said.
COVID-19 has left its scar on the world and continues to cause pain, but through the sorrow, those affected are finding healing.
“Having gone through the season of COVID-19 brought us even closer, a closeness we didn’t think we could achieve,” respiratory therapist Robert Calderon said.
Now, in the Healing Garden, stands a permanent reminder of the resilience and pride these medical professionals have for the lives they had a chance to save and in remembrance of the ones who were lost.