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Providing compassionate care during a pandemic

Ernesto's story

The pandemic has been a difficult and emotional journey, but one that Ernesto Carnota, director of critical care at HCA Florida JFK Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida, believes has brought new attention to the nursing profession.

“The whole world got the opportunity to see what nurses do and how important nurses are,” Ernesto said. “As a profession, we were challenged in every single aspect where we could be challenged. The amount of resilience and compassion that I experienced from my nursing colleagues was something that I never thought I would experience.”

Ernesto decided to become a nurse after his mother was hospitalized for nearly a month, drawn to what he calls a career of service. “Nurses have the opportunity to be present during the gift of life (when babies are born), and we also have the opportunity to be there for the last minutes of a person’s life. We’re the only profession that can cover the entire lifespan.”

We had to keep going

In the early days of the pandemic “there was an incredible amount of feeling helpless,” Ernesto recalled. “[But] we couldn’t stop. We had to keep going.” Ernesto and his fellow HCA Healthcare nurses navigated the unknown in the face of many fears, adapting and drawing strength from their colleagues.

Expanded benefits put into place early on helped — pandemic pay for nurses unable to work because of COVID-19, employee assistance programs to support physical and emotional well-being, and regular check-ins. Ernesto recalls leaders at HCA Florida JFK Hospital putting in equally long days, and CEOs donning scrubs to work alongside nurses.

“I couldn’t be more proud of being a part of this profession and a part of this amazing team of HCA Healthcare nurses,” Ernesto said.

photo of ernesto the director of critical care

“The whole world got the opportunity to see what nurses do and how important nurses are. As a profession, we were challenged in every single aspect where we could be challenged. The amount of resilience and compassion that I experienced from my nursing colleagues was something that I never thought I would experience.”

Ernesto Carnota, BSN-RN, CCRN, Director of Critical Care
at HCA Florida JFK Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida