Mylene in the Storm

In the midst of heartbreak and exhaustion of COVID-19, a Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital nurse went above and beyond to care for her patients and colleagues.

In the midst of the storm of COVID-19, the heartbreak and exhaustion, the unending waves of work trying to help and to save, attempting to salvage the ravaged lungs of the dying, amid the unending psychological onslaught, there was Mylene.

Mylene Peralta, BSN, RN, brought humanity to hardship, calm to calamity, peace where all the pieces seemed to be falling apart.

Each morning she would tell me, “When I go into a room, I will be there for a while. I’m going get the patient some breakfast, get them cleaned up and freshened, change their bed and then give them a massage with lavender-scented lotion to help them relax. Can you please watch out for my other patients?”

“…Your hood is too plain! What do you want on your hood? Flowers? Hearts? Your name? A cartoon?”
Melanie Williams, BS, RN, CMSRN

Patients were alone, unable to have family visiting except by video chat, unable to have any human contact except with the healthcare team. In glass rooms – with breathing tubes, wires on their chest, eyes on them 24 hours a day – she helped them to feel human again. She treated each patient with such dignity and respect. I was humbled.

Once her patients were all tucked in for the day, Mylene started her work with our staff.

“Melanie! Your hood is too plain! What do you want on your hood? Flowers? Hearts? Your name? A cartoon?” She would sit at her desk outside her patients’ rooms, pull out her stickers and work with each staff member to create a PAPR (powered air-purifying respirator) hood that reflected their personality.

As the storm circled around us, as tears streamed down our faces, she created a safe and calm space by embracing the humanity of it all. Rather than rail against the storm, howl at the moon, cry at the unfairness of it all, she chose to find beauty. She chose to ensure that all the other parts of life were not pushed aside. As the world was falling apart, Mylene somehow made the madness serene.

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