ILS Alumni on the Frontlines of the Covid-19 Battle

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ILS alumni are among the frontline healthcare workers in the battle against COVID-19.

Staff

ILS’s mission statement reads as follows: “Immaculata-La Salle High School is a home whose Salesian family spirit and academic programs enrich the lives of students toward their holistic formation as good, faithful Christians and productive, responsible citizens in a dynamic, global society.”

Nowhere is the success of the school’s mission more clear than when looking at ILS alumni who are part of the frontline battle against COVID-19. Dozens upon dozens of Royal Lions are manning positions as healthcare professionals, putting their own health at risk to heal the sick.

“Being a nurse is a calling,” said Margie Martinez, ILS Class of 2000. “It goes way above the normal daily routine.  I am directly involved in patient care and I’m by their side every step of the way. Sometimes their journey is long as they fight through difficult moments such as the ones we are living these days. It’s those difficult moments that I’m at their bedside offering compassion and strength.”

Martinez is a nurse in Miami who works in Hematology and Oncology. “LaSalle instilled in me a drive to help others in their time of need. It takes faith, courage, and a strong will to care for others that LaSalle certainly cultivated in me.”

The struggle against COVID-19 has developed at an unprecedented pace. While some have merely seen it unfold on news reports, for others, it has touched home personally.

The ILS alumni who are fighting this battle are leaning on their high school experiences to help them make it through.

“La Salle taught me all about service and providing for the community, specifically to the less fortunate children in our community,” said Jennifer Linares, ILS Class of 2011.

“As an emergency room nurse, I place others before myself when providing care, all day, every day and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Linares, echoing sentiments heard from many of the healthcare alumni from ILS.

For some, the connection to healthcare started while as students at Immaculata-La Salle.

“During my enrollment at La Salle, I spent time volunteering at nursing homes and local hospitals, joined after school sports, as well as assisted in summer camps for children. These three things assisted me in my development as a person as well sparked my interest in helping children,” said Japit Quintana, MBA, BSN, RN and ILS Class of 2005.

Quintana is the in-house administrator for Nicklaus Children’s, involved in direct hospital operations during this crisis.

“La Salle helped me grow and understand my potential,” Quintana explained. “None of this would not have been possible without the initial spark in La Salle. Sports allowed me to respond to adversity and gave me disciple. Caring for children became my passion. It helped shape my core and I am truly appreciative at my mentors while enrolled.”

Quintana called ILS faculty members “great mentors” who helped him prepare for the future.

Monica Companioni, MD, deals with the future all the time, as she specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. She’s part of the Class of 1998 at ILS, and graduated from the University of Miami medical school in 2006.

“I think that coming from La Salle helped me in a way because I have always trusted that God would lead us out of this and there would be better days ahead. It has helped me stay optimistic and it has allowed me to avoid falling into despair,” said Dr.  Companioni, who has been delivering babies and treating patients amid the pandemic.

Michelle Sierra Schultz, PT, DPT, is a Physical Therapist at John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and ILS Class of 2007. She primarily works with the neurodevelopmental population, children experiencing congenital conditions, neurological deficits, orthopedic injuries, cardiopulmonary diseases, and musculoskeletal impairments. She also runs a wheelchair and equipment clinic, providing medically necessary equipment to children with disabilities, including those most susceptible and fragile during this pandemic. They provide durable medical equipment such as custom wheelchairs and seating, medical beds and bathing systems, adaptive car seats, walkers and standers, as well as lift mechanisms.

“Unfortunately, during this crisis, we have had to limit access to medically necessary care for the protection of medically fragile patients, families, and employees,” Sierra Schultz said.

Sierra Schultz said ILS’s “workshop week” program that helped her develop collaboration and communication skills. As an athlete, Sierra Schultz recognized the inherent value of teamwork and how many great minds together are often better than one.

“Without the support of our clinical team, IT, front office staff, and assistants it would be difficult to have made it through the difficult months of this pandemic. Every day we go to work with the same fear of self-contamination, but behind all that personal protective equipment is always the caring educator and serviceman that Don Bosco embodied.”

These healthcare workers have put their lives on the line for the betterment of the sick.

Among the other ILS alumni in this fight are:

  • Aimee Almanzar MD, Class of 2005, Pulmonary-critical care fellow at Aventura Hospital in the COVID ICU;
  • Janelle Benito, Class of 2006, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Mercy Hospital and a Clinical Preceptor for the same Nurse Anesthesia Programs;
  • Stephanie Carlo, Class is 2009, Occupational Therapist at Jackson North;
  • Stephanie Felix, Class of 2000, BSN, in CA;
  • Gabi Garcia, Class of 2014, works in the ER radiology department seeing COVID patients;
  • Claira McElroy, Class of 2009, Emergency Room RN;
  • Lorraine Mendez, MD, Class of 1998, Emergency Medicine in Tampa, FL;
  • Alec Peniche, Class of 2005, an anesthesiologist in Oakland, CA;
  • Yanet Perdomo-Perez, Class of 1996, at UM Infection Control;
  • Carlos Ramirez-Blessing, MD, Class of 1994, Head of ER at Florida Hospital in Orlando;
  • Jaidee Saavedra, Class of 1994, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Mercy Hospital; Clinical Coordinator for the Barry University, FIU, & UM Nurse Anesthesia Programs; & the Envision Healthcare Assistant Advanced Practice Provider Regional Director for Miami Dade; and
  • Shana Symone Quarrie, Class of 2003, Occupational Therapist treating micro preemies at Arnold Palmer/Winnie Palmer Hospital

ILS’s mission statement calls for the development of good, faithful Christians and productive, responsible citizens in a dynamic, global society. It’s clear that these Royal Lions have become just that.

 

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ILS would like to thank all of our Alumni who are on the frontlines of this pandemic. You are our superheroes! Alumni pictured in order: 1. Alec Peniche, Class of 2005, anesthesiologists  In Oakland California 2. Stephanie Felix, Class of 2000, BSN, in CA 3. Monica Companioni, MD., Class of 1998, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Delivering babies and treating patients amid the pandemic 4. Aimee Almanzar MD, Class of 2005, Pulmonary-critical care fellow Aventura Hospital COVID ICU 5. Dr. Carlos Ramirez-Blessing, Class of 1994, Head of ER at Florida Hospital Orlando 6. Gabi Garcia, Class of 2014, works in the ER radiology department seeing COVID patients #ilsalumni #goroyals #ilsroyals #lionpride

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ILS would like to thank all of our Alumni who are on the frontlines of this pandemic. You are our superheroes! Alumni pictured in order: 1. Claira McElroy, Class of 2009, Emergency Room RN 2. Jaidee Saavedra, Class of 1994, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Mercy Hospital; Clinical Coordinator for the Barry University, FIU, & UM Nurse Anesthesia Programs; & the Envision Healthcare Assistant Advanced Practice Provider Regional Director for Miami Dade. Her daughter is Jade Saavedra, a junior at ILS 3. Janelle Benito, Class of 2006, she is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Mercy Hospital and a Clinical Preceptor for the same Nurse Anesthesia Programs 4. Lauren Nabut, Class of 2009, Crime Scene Investigator 5. Shana Symone Quarrie, Class of 2003, Occupational Therapist treating micro preemies at Arnold Palmer/Winnie Palmer Hospital 6. Stephanie Carlo, Class is 2009, Occupational Therapist at Jackson North

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