Yadira Ortega, who has worked as a medical assistant (MA) for over a year at the East Side Health Center in Riverside, shares how it is to be an essential worker during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Close to home in Riverside County there have been 5,039 cases along with 205 deaths. San Bernardino County has 2,964 cases along with 114 deaths, Los Angeles county has 31,677 cases and 1,530 deaths and Orange County with 3,502 and 76 deaths.
Q: How many and what kind of patients do you serve?
A: We see patients who need birth control, pregnancy tests or feel sick and need to see a doctor. We serve as many patients as we can in a day that has set appointments, plus walk-ins with three doctors. Currently we only serve patients who are feeling sick and possible, or positive, COVID-19 patients.
Q: Would you say you are risking your life by being an essential worker during this COVID-19 time by continuing to go to work in the medical field as a Medical Assistant at your clinic?
A: Yes, I am risking my life at work during this time for the fact that we are only seeing sick patients and potential COVID-19 patients and testing them. We have already had about 5 patients testing positive for COVID-19 at my clinic and one little mistake we make can cause us to get infected if you don’t do proper sanitizing techniques and don’t have the proper protective equipment.
Q: What are some of the difficulties your work environment is going through right now?
A: We are not receiving enough proper protection equipment and we are not too sure if we will even be receiving them. I’m not sure if my clinic will remain open due to this conflict.
Q: What made you want to pursue a career in the medical field?
A: I’ve always been a caring person and liked helping people in need and being a MA I help
people the moment I clock in and the moment I clock out. I’ve never been the type of person that is not able to see or deal with blood or needles, I am good at it which makes me so good at my position dealing with blood and needles all day long.
Q: How has COVID-19 affected you and your family?
A: It has affected my family by not being able to hug and kiss my kids right away when I get home from work. When I get home from work, I immediately pack up all my clothes in a concealed bag that I’ve worn at work and take a hot shower before I lay a finger on one of my babies. I am constantly using Lysol on myself and my kids. I work 12 hour shifts so I try to squeeze all their schooling on my days off and they hate it. It’s hard because they’re little and don’t understand that they can’t go anywhere.
Q: How has social distancing and this lock down the government has on us affected you and your family mentally and psychologically?
A: Mentally, it sucks. I can’t just go and see my friends and my family because I have to be very careful even around my own children. I had to break it to my son that just turned six in March that his big birthday plans were canceled because everything was beginning to temporarily close due to the COVID-19, so I can’t reward my kids and give them the family fun night they want and need as much as I did before. The kids’ schools are all closed for the rest of the school year and my kids miss their friends and being outside and playing. They miss being in class and visually learning from people who have degrees and experience, and most importantly, patients with kids that I can’t give them. Yes, I do homework with each and every one of my kids and try to explain to them the best possible way I can, but they really need a teacher who is a professional at what they do to teach my babies.