Kaiser Permanente: Honoring Health Care Heroes and a Healthy, Thriving World

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org.

Kaiser Permanente celebrates health care heroes to be featured in Rose Parade TV entertainment special

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many of our holiday traditions, including the beloved annual Rose Parade® watched by millions in person and on TV each year, often under sunny skies in beautiful Pasadena.

This year, however, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses will broadcast “The Rose Parade’s New Year Celebration presented by Honda” a 2-hour TV entertainment special on Jan. 1, featuring prerecorded performances, celebrity appearances, and more to celebrate the history of the Rose Parade. This reimagined program will air locally on 6 Tournament of Roses broadcast-partner stations/networks: at 7 a.m. Pacific time on Univision, and at 8 a.m. PT on ABC, Hallmark Channel, KTLA, NBC, and RFD-TV.

While a Kaiser Permanente float has been a fixture in the parade for 15 years, the organization will trade in their float for a 90-second video with the theme, “Honoring health care heroes and a healthy, thriving world,”expected to be viewed by millions around the world. This unique and inspirational video will highlight health care heroes, while reinforcing the importance of proper safety and hygiene measures as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The staff walking in each day to care for COVID and non-COVID patients are doing so much more than stepping up and going the extra mile,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, president, Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Hawaii, Health Plan and Hospitals. “They are recommitting themselves daily to their calling of providing clinical care, support services and human connection to the 4.7 million people who have entrusted us with their lives in Southern California.”

Edward M. Ellison, MD, executive medical director and chairman of the board for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, echoed those sentiments.

“Our physicians and care staff show up with bravery and commitment every day to ensure the highest possible patient care and medical excellence are provided in our communities across Southern California,” he said. “Day after day and throughout the pandemic, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to deliver high-quality, equitable, and compassionate care. That commitment is particularly meaningful during these unprecedented times, but we can’t do this alone. We are all in this together and need everyone to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid large and small gatherings, and practice physical distancing. Along with the vaccine, putting these actions into practice will not only protect the health of your family and communities, but also help us return to a more normal life.”
Kaiser Permanente’s TV segment features heart-warming and emotional testimonials by 8 health care heroes. They include:

Marcial Reyes, Emergency Department Charge Nurse, Fontana Medical Center

portrait of Marcial Reyes

Shortly after the start of the pandemic, Marcial Reyes found himself on the other side of the fence when he contracted the COVID-19 virus. After spending 23 days in the hospital — isolated, comatose, and on a ventilator for more than a week — Reyes recovered and returned to his work on the front lines in the emergency department to care for patients experiencing the same illness that placed him in a critical state and near death.

Maria Guzman, Environmental Services Aide, Anaheim Medical Center

portrait of Maria Guzman

Maria Guzman’s passion for patients started when she witnessed hospital staff treat her close loved ones who were fighting cancer with love and compassion. She quickly fell in love with health care and decided she wanted to make a difference in the healing experience. As an environmental services aide during the pandemic, Guzman has found great meaning in going above and beyond for her patients. Her love for helping others has motivated her, and she is now working toward becoming a registered nurse.

Nina Vallega, Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse, Los Angeles Medical Center

portrait of Nina Vallega

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic felt like walking into the unknown, and for Nina Vallega, it is a moment in time she’ll never forget. “We saw all the negative reports in the news, the ever-changing stream of information about the virus, and it made us wonder what we were getting ourselves into,” Vallega said. One of the things that inspires her most is the bravery of her colleagues. “They still show up every single day, and they still take care of these people,” she shared.

Jerry Barba, Clinical Psychologist, Downey Service Area

portrait of Jerry Barba

Front-line workers have been under enormous pressure. Jerry Barba saw that and took action. Barba began by supporting Kaiser Permanente staff over the phone, but soon realized that wasn’t enough, deciding instead to volunteer his time in person at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. After setting up an office right in the heart of the emergency department, he began providing quick interventions and offering coping tips for front-line workers in need of a little extra connection. “Hold on to hope and try to find some bright spots, even if they’re just moments in a day,” he says.

Rene Aventura, Registered Nurse, Step Down Unit, Baldwin Park Medical Center

portrait of Rene Aventura

A platoon sergeant in the U.S. Army, Rene Aventura has experienced the reality of being in combat zones on the other side of the globe, even once coming close to losing his life during an airstrike. Now back home, Aventura is fighting another battle as a front-line nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since I came back, I feel like I’m in a state of war. It’s a fight we have to win,” Aventura said. He feels honored to be able to provide patient care during this difficult time, sharing that it feels like this is his and his fellow nurses’ calling.

Ebony Talley, Director of Infection Prevention, Woodland Hills Medical Center

portrait of Ebony Talley

Ebony Talley believes we can get through the pandemic together. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, and there is another side of this,” Talley says. “This is hard for all of us, and we really haven’t had a moment’s rest since this started. That takes a toll on anybody.” After more than 9 months of combatting the virus, pandemic fatigue is expected, but giving up isn’t an option, she says.

Danielle R. Flowers, MD, pediatrician and physician in charge, Mission Hills Clinic

portrait of Danielle R. Flowers, MD

Providing care for children during the pandemic hasn’t been easy because of the emotional toll. “You can barely see your doctor’s eyes behind all of the stuff we’re wearing, so it is really hard to connect with the kids and make an already scary experience a comfortable one,” said Dr. Flowers. “We’ve had to say things like, ‘I’m smiling at you with my eyes,’ and we have to do more with our voices and our body language to let them know that this is a safe environment and we’re here to help them.”

Elizabeth E. Hudson, DO, Head of Infectious Disease, Panorama City Medical Center

portrait of Elizabeth E. Hudson, DO

Dr. Elizabeth E. Hudson said one thing that has helped her navigate through the unknown is recognizing the importance of embracing an interdependent culture. Another is understanding that sacrifice is hard and uncomfortable, but necessary. “This is all about caring for your fellow human being and showing the Martin Luther King kind of love — a real love for people,” she explains. While it’s impossible to have all the answers, Dr. Hudson says she is focusing on making sure patients can get the care they need so they can recover as quickly as possible. “I have seen whole families die, especially earlier on in the pandemic, and it’s just been heartbreaking. That has sort of shaped my whole focus,” she shared.

These health care heroes are available for interviews and are eager to tell their stories to inspire others to stay strong and remain optimistic that the new year will bring a beginning to the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

About Kaiser Permanente

For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.