By CBSLA Staff

EL MONTE (CBSLA) — At the height of the pandemic, surge tents were going up at hospitals across Southern California to help care for the overflow of COVID-19 patients. Today, one of those tents was turned into a rest and relaxation area for the nurses who helped get an El Monte hospital through the worst of the pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

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American Career College put together an appreciation event Tuesday for hospital workers at the Greater El Monte Community Hospital by turning the once-surge tent into a relaxation lounge with gift bags and treats.

“Nothing has been like this,” nurse Abigail Clabecilla said. “Working so many crazy hours, and then just having to deal with so many losses of patients that you’re not used to.”

The college was well aware of how difficult that surge was – several of its nursing students did clinical rotations at the hospital.

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“It’s been tough with covid, and for them to open their arms to us, we’ve been very grateful,” student Jessica Fletes said.

But hospitalization rates are going down, and healthcare workers are finally getting a chance to realize the positive impact they’ve had.

“This is a great surprise. It’s a great joy,” nurse Alma Cobarrubias said. “We work so hard, it’s been a difficult year. To see this and be appreciated, it feels really nice.”

Perhaps more so than everyone else, they’re looking forward to the end of the pandemic.

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“Just to be able to start seeing each other’s regular faces, and then being able to give, like, your family a hug,” Clabecilla said. “Just hoping that the vaccine, everyone gets vaccinated soon, so we’ll have that.”