Miguel Hernandez has always had a passion for helping others and has been a trailblazer for Hispanics in the field of nursing.
"Nursing is something that was nurtured in me," said Hernandez, a nurse manager of med telemetry with Memorial Healthcare System.
Hernandez is now leading the way as a nurse, but he made a lot of sacrifices along the way as he left his native Colombia to come to the United States.
He's been in the country for over 16 years, and since he arrived at just 19 years old, he has hit the ground running, juggling multiple jobs and school. He says his Abuela, who has since passed away, was the driving force that motivated him every step of the way.
"I was able to graduate with my nursing degree while I was working full time as well. Sometimes I had to work two jobs, but it was doable and with God's help, it was always possible," said Hernandez.
The devoted nurse has worked his way up the ranks and has been with Memorial Healthcare System for seven years. The past year and a half, he saw the realities of the COVID-19 crisis head-on as he treated patients on his floor, which was temporarily converted to a COVID unit.
"We have had so many challenges recently with the pandemic. Nobody was expecting this and nobody was prepared for this, but together everybody joined forces and teamwork made the difference," said Hernandez.
According to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Hispanics are 2.5 times as likely to have died from COVID-19 than non-Hispanics when age is considered.
Vaccination rates are also currently at just 17% among the Hispanic population, according to the CDC.
Hernandez says COVID-19 has been a challenge, but being bilingual has been a strength in the field of nursing as he says it has helped him elevate his level of care.
"Being bilingual as a Spanish speaker, I did see the opportunity to be able to influence and affect positively and directly, the outcome of the patients. Especially for those Hispanic patients that do not speak the language," said Hernandez.
Hernandez is in the process of completing his Master's in Nursing Administration and Financial Leadership. He says his love for his career and his patients are what keep him going.
"It takes courage, but you also have to have that heart to help others and put yourself in the line where things are happening and to be able to provide care for these patients that need it the most," said Hernandez.