By Rebecca Jones

Get Well Soon

Providing Encouragement to COVID-19 Patients and Their Families 

Kirsten Del Mastro, RT, night shift lead respiratory therapist at University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Rio Rancho, spends long hours caring for patients with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Hospital visitation restrictions prevent families from visiting COVID patients. So Del Mastro and her coworkers help families connect with their loved ones.

"It's definitely a hard process for the patient and their families," Del Mastro says. "We FaceTime family members so they can talk to their loved one. We have a great, great team."

The ICU team has devised a number of creative solutions to help connect patients with their loved ones.

"We post signs in patients' rooms that they're going to see when they get better," Del Mastro says.

The patients who are on ventilators have cards from loved ones posted right outside their rooms "so they'll know we're rooting for them," Del Mastro says.

Community members can help in two ways:

  • Stay home and don't go out unless it's absolutely necessary.
  • While you're at home, send a get-well card to COVID patients at UNM Hospital or SRMC.

"If people could see what we see, they'd have a different understanding," Del Mastro says. "People are passing without family members. It's not worth going out for any reason unless it's an emergency. It's someone's life, you know?"

The plight of patients who are isolated from their loved ones tugs the heartstrings of the ICU staff.

"We have a really good team, a compassionate team," Del Mastro says. "We cry with the families. That's been very different from the past. But we are that for our patients now, too."

Here's how you can send a get-well card to a hospitalized COVID-19 patient:

UNM Hospital
2211 Lomas NE
Attn: Barbara Temer
Albuquerque, NM 87106

Sandoval Regional Medical Center
3001 Broadmoor Blvd. NE
Attn: Irene Lunneborg
Rio Rancho, NM 87144

If you would like to donate to employees at either hospital, you can do that through the UNM Foundation.