2019 graduate Sarah Sumida returned to her home state of Hawaii after graduating from Chapman University to begin preparing for Physician’s Assistant school. As a certified nursing assistant, Sarah began working in the respiratory unit at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sarah never expected that her role in the respiratory unit would change drastically amid a global pandemic.

When the virus hit the United States, Sarah’s respiratory unit became the designated COVID-19 unit. “Everything happened so quickly”, Sarah said. “Forcing us to learn along the way.” News headlines and national statistics were changing daily, while PPE (personal protective equipment) guidance was never straight forward. “I felt like I was being thrown into a storm, completely unprepared.”

Sarah learned to weather the storm as time went on. She learned to gain confidence in herself and became comfortable caring for her extremely sick patients.

Sarah says that despite all the negatives surrounding working in a high-risk environment, the local community has shown an outpouring of love and support for healthcare workers. Workers at Queen’s Medical Center receive donations with encouraging words and thank you cards. Many restaurants generously donate snacks and meals while local churches and boy scout troops donate gift bags filled with toiletries and Stance socks.

Sarah draws on her time as a softball student-athlete to keep her core values of teamwork and resilience at the forefront of her mind every day. “Working together is an integral part of any team, and in this case, we are dealing with extremely sick, scared, and lonely patients. It’s a life or death matter, so communication and teamwork are essential, not only for the safety and well-being of the patient but also for each other.”

Being a part of a team can help you push through any adversity. Sarah’s softball team helped her push through injuries, and her team at Queen’s Medical Center helps keep her focused on those who desperately need help during the COVID-19 pandemic.