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Adventist nurses receive a gift of gratitude

It's not just the thought that counts. The caffeine scores points, too.

A local medical specialist who worries people are beginning to forget the invaluable contributions of health-care workers on Monday delivered a special gift to the nursing staff of Adventist Health Bakersfield on Chester Avenue.

With close to a dozen masked nurses lined up behind him near the main entrance of the hospital, Stockdale Podiatry owner Dr. Brandon Hawkins presented a gift of 900 Starbucks gift cards, each good for $5.

That's $4,500 worth of java for a hard-working group of people he says have helped the community through the pandemic, largely without much fanfare as public recognition of the crisis seems to be fading.

"We have appreciated our nurses and we feel like they have not been appreciated in our community," said Hawkins, who also works at the hospital.

He added that his gift carries a message for the rest of the community: Don't forget about the health-care workers on whom the pandemic has been especially hard.

About two years ago Hawkins and his wife donated a quarter of a million dollars to help pay for the Estella Espericueta Memorial Garden at the nearby Adventist Health AIS Cancer Center. Hawkins said Monday it felt like time to do something more especially for nurses.

"They have long hours (and a) hard job," he said. "Just thinking about others instead of ourselves is definitely a gesture we wanted to do."

The hospital's nurse leader, Heather Van Housen, said the gift cards will provide literal fuel to people working long hours to keep others alive and healthy day in, day out.

But more than that, she said it serves as recognition that, with more than 60 COVID-19 patients still being treated at the Adventist Health Bakersfield campus Monday, the pandemic isn't over.

"It's really hard work and I'm not sure that the general public knows," she said, adding that members of the general public have shown waves of support for health-care workers but that the gratitude seems to have waned despite the continuing need for committed nurses.

"I'm just so proud of them," Van Housen said. "They are hard-working, humble and doing sacred work."

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 157,662

  • Deaths: 1,804

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 149,957

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.09

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.72