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UCSD nurses honored for saving Chula Vista councilman's life during COVID fight

DAISY Award Ceremony UC San Diego Health
Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 01, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The UC San Diego Health nurses who saved the life of a Chula Vista city councilman during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were honored for their efforts on Tuesday.

Councilman Steve Padilla was one of UC San Diego Health's first coronavirus patients. He spent 11 days on a ventilator at Jacob's Medical Center, according to a press release from the councilman.

At the time, Padilla was not expected to survive, but the nurses of the Thornton 2 East Progressive Care Unit made it their mission to make sure he'd make a full recovery.

Padilla says it's difficult to express his gratitude for the nurses' efforts.

"These nurses not only risked their lives to care for me and so many others throughout this pandemic, they also gave me the comfort and strength I needed to beat COVID after 11 days on a ventilator," Padilla says.

"Being able to see these heroic nurses again and celebrate this award with them in person means so much to me, and I’m thrilled that they’re getting the recognition they deserve.”

At a ceremony on Tuesday, the nurses were presented with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. During the event, the nurses remembered the difficult early days of the pandemic and reflected on the milestone of seeing their first COVID patient back on their feet and healthy again.

Padilla says the nurses were professional, compassionate, and courteous throughout his hospital stay.

Ashley Kauth, one of the nurses who took care of Padilla during his hospital stay, says the 2 East PCU team is incredibly close-knit and cares deeply about patients and their families and each other.

"Being the COVID frontline team has been challenging on the entire 2 East team, so having a moment of recognition for all the hard work we have put in meant a lot to us," Kauth says.

"It was also a powerful reminder of the massive impact our care has on the lives of our patients. This is why we do what we do." 

The DAISY, or Diseases Attacking the Immune System, Award is an international recognition program honoring and celebrating the skillful, compassionate care nurses provide every day.