Editor’s note: This is a first in a series celebrating our community superheroes as they help lift us up during a difficult time.
For the esteemed staff at the Lompoc Valley Medical Center, Tuesday night was supposed to be one of celebration and cheer.
Instead, the area has been besieged by COVID-19 cases, with 55 of the county’s 218 confirmed cases in this town of just more than 42,000.
And while the staff at LVMC is doing the work of heroes, it was their spirit that touched the heart of one of its most beloved nurses, Patti Field.
The Ceremony of Champions was supposed to be Ms. Field’s moment in the spotlight, celebrating 30 years at LVMC, a fixture around the facility as a perioperative and charge nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit.
But the biannual event had to be postponed, with all hands on deck across the medical center, as well as strict social-distancing mandates.
That wasn’t good enough for Ms. Field’s co-workers of three decades — a “special edition” was in order.
So, on Monday, donning face masks with smiles underneath, they feted Ms. Field.
There was cake and punch, as well as an anniversary plaque and plant.
But then there were the words.
“Everywhere you go in Lompoc, there’s always someone chiming in about the tall blonde nurse, the one who is so sweet,” said Sarah Gunter, LVMC’s perioperative services director.
“She’s the glue and the heart of this (operating room), and my feeling and many others, of the hospital. When I think of Lompoc Hospital, I think of Patti.”
She was an icon to many.
“Patti is the epitome of what a nurse is,” said Melissa DeBacker, LVMC’sChief of Quality Assurance Process Improvement, Risk Management and Infection Control. “She is everything I aspire to be. She has been there for me through thick and thin. She has the voice of an angel. She sings beautifully … Thank you for staying here and working with us and all you have done for all of us.”
The community echoed Ms. Gunter, taking to Facebook to honor Ms. Field.
“One of the most fantastic nurses to ever care for our community. A soft spoken, loving soul who truly believed in helping everyone. I and my family had several encounters, all special and spectacular. Thank you for taking care of our community,” Raymond Down posted.
He wasn’t alone.
“There simply are no words to describe the commitment and heart Patti has put into serving our community. She has touched so many with her kindness, myself included. I feel very blessed to have served with Patti. God Bless you,” said Leslie Kelly.
Sometimes heroes don’t take physical form, but lie in the spirit of a team.
And that’s something the squad at LVMC has in spades.
Happy anniversary, Ms. Field, thank you for your service.
About this series
We are looking for community heroes in this trying time. The hero can take on many different forms, and we want to hear all about them. Send us your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can properly recognize those who remind us that we can withstand anything, together.