My family and I would like to recognize the thoughtful and compassionate care provided by Edwin Ortega on the PICU. Edwin took care of my 13-year-old nephew after a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. My brother and sister-in-law referred to Edwin as “our angel” and I would like to describe how he impacted our hearts during the week our lives were forever changed.
Edwin entered our world with a genuine and humble spirit. He took time to explain procedures and answer questions from family members. My brother said he appreciated that Edwin moved slowly as he worked with my nephew. He never seemed rushed or indicated that he had any other thing that was more important than my nephew. As an ED and ICU nurse, I know that nursing staff has a turnstile list of tasks that need to be completed. In an age where co-morbidities and acuities are complex, we know that Edwin is likely to be stretched thin on any given day.
However, Edwin didn’t show us this side of health care as he moved to care for my nephew. In fact, Edwin verbalized “this kid is the most important person to me right now.” He more than spoke the words, he showed us that my nephew was a priority with every move he made. As we were struggling with our emotions and attempts to comfort one another, we took comfort in Edwin’s words and knew that my nephew was in the best care possible.
Edwin is a truly gifted nurse, whose gentle, soft-spoken manner and quiet ways are attributes that can be overlooked in the hustle of a busy unit. They are characteristics that were abundantly apparent to our family as Edwin cared for my nephew. My brother and sister-in-law noted the tenderness Edwin displayed toward my nephew as he spoke to him while he was providing care. He kept the room clean and tidy and didn’t flush the toilet too often when he emptied the Foley and he always asked us if we needed anything.
From a family perspective, although these actions may seem trivial, these behaviors show a deep commitment to compassion and respect. Edwin is also a funny guy and being that we are a tribe that loves to laugh, Edwin was ready with some silly jokes and laughter at just the right times during the most difficult situation of our lives. His intuition as he serves others is transcendent!
My nephew passed away just a week later after removal from the ventilator. The PICU team partnered with Trans Life to assist my nephew in donating his organs and tissues to give hope to others who are suffering. Our family was supported tenderly by both teams with Edwin functioning as the primary nurse. Our time at Arnold Palmer ended in the most precious outcome that could be had after the horrific injuries sustained by my nephew. Edwin stood by our sides as we wept and said goodbye to our beloved son, nephew, and cousin. All the while, Edwin was focused on providing exceptional care to my nephew, he was able to contain his own emotion and continue bestowing support to us. After assisting to transport my nephew to the surgical suite, Edwin joined us again and allowed us to see the depth of his commitment to our family as he himself shed tears.
We give accolades to all the providers and staff on the PICU at Arnold Palmer Children’s who were each genuine in their sorrow for our family, supportive to our unique situation, and who went above and beyond to support my nephew in his last days with us on earth. We felt ministered to by every point of contact on the PICU.
On the PICU, the staff is given an opportunity to wear superhero T-shirts as part of their uniform on the weekends. Edwin is our superhero. Carry us with you, Edwin, as you move through your career as we will certainly carry you with us forever in our hearts.