MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – During Hispanic Heritage month, two Hispanic healthcare workers share their personal experiences working the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I do things because I like to,” said Nora Morena, nursing assistant for Tidelands Health. “I love to see my patients.”

Moreno describes herself as a woman of faith but said the past year and a half working the frontlines has brought many challenges. “When I feel like that, I am a very spiritual person. It is when I go and take my time to go and pray,” Moreno said.

Moreno is a certified nursing assistant for Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital. Moreno said she has treated all kinds of patients, including those with COVID-19. She wears a full set of personal protective equipment, such as a gown, mask, face shield, and gloves.

But it’s also a delicate balance, she says, for patients who are alone and cannot be visited by family. That’s when she steps in to give her patients the comfort they need.

“They feel lonely and it’s true because some people are not allowed to be in the room. They are not allowed to stay with them,” Moreno said.

Delma Ham, a trauma unit nurse for McLeod Regional Health Center in Florence, has lived the experience. She tested positive for the virus last year.

“It was not only the patients getting sick with COVID, but we nurses were getting sick with it, too,” Ham said.

Last year when the pandemic started, it was scary for those working the frontlines with little knowledge and treatment available at the time. “This is kind of how it is today, as well. Back then, it was even scarier because we knew very little about COVID. We didn’t know what could happen to us if we did get COVID,” Ham said.

Ham is pregnant with her first child. She says her husband also works the COVID unit at a hospital, constantly exposing them to the virus. She says she is taking all precautions to protect her child and family.

“What if I get COVID from work? What if he gets COVID? What could happen to our baby or to my pregnancy? So, it has been very scary,” Ham said.

Both Moreno and Ham said the hectic, long hours can take a toll physically and emotionally.

But they said it’s their passion to help their patients. They also want to thank their hospital management team for their support.

“When you have a good crew and a good team to support you, you don’t work by yourself. That is nice,” Moreno said.

“We were able to do our best and everything. Luckily it was not easy but everything worked out,” Ham said.