CSUMB's healthcare heroes share pandemic experiences

Photo: COVID-19 Illustration by Florenz Tuazon

Graphic illustrations by Florenz Tuazon

July 29, 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of CSU Monterey Bay nursing and physician assistant students served as frontline healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing facilities, clinics and more. All while still pursuing their studies through CSUMB.

As of February 2021, Natividad Medical Center, the 172-bed acute care hospital owned and operated by Monterey County, had cared for 426 people with the disease. A total of 22,225 people had tested positive for the virus in the county, 951 had been hospitalized, and 170 had died, officials said.

A month later, with vaccination rates hitting all-time highs and the number of COVID-19 cases dropping to new lows, everyone collectively exhaled. Healthcare workers and CSUMB students Jacquie Siino, Theresa Crisp and Steven Kurtz shared their stories of struggle, courage, joy and pain, and how CSUMB helped them keep their educations on track as they continued their lifesaving work.

Siino is a staff nurse in the intensive care unit at Natividad hospital. She cares for the critically sick, and patients with traumatic injuries. Starting in Spring 2020, she also treated severe COVID-19 cases that required a ventilator in the hospital’s COVID unit. With 10 years of experience as a registered nurse, she’s working towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Kurtz, a third-year student in CSUMB’s Master of Science Physician Assistant program, volunteered with MSPA students and faculty to help the county set up an alternative care site in Marina last spring, in case area hospitals reached capacity. In March 2021 he was working at an urgent care clinic in Sherman, Texas, completing clinical rotations required to graduate.

Crisp began her healthcare career in 2000 as a tech at a psychiatric hospital. She went back to school and became a registered nurse in 2014. She joined the staff in Behavioral Health Services at Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula in 2017. She’s enrolled in CSUMB @ CHOMP, a program that offers on-site classes at the hospital for registered nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Read the full story in the CSUMB Magazine.