Local first responders hold parade in honor of Hospital Week to salute healthcare workers at MemorialCare and St. Mary Medical Center

A parade of more than 20 emergency vehicles – dubbed Operation Thank You Long Beach – brought morale to healthcare workers at two of Long Beach’s biggest hospitals.

The motorcade paraded by MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center before completing its mission at Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center in recognition of National Hospital Week on Wednesday, May 13.

“It’s very touching and gives us a renewed sense of energy and hope,” Abby Rojas, Emergency Services Manager at St. Mary Medical Center said.

The procession involved dozens of emergency personnel, from Long Beach Fire Department, Long Beach Police Department, Signal Hill Police Department, and Cal State University Police, who participated in the parade, including multiple fire engines, police cruisers, motor brigade and more, in honor of the tireless commitment of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s very gratifying to know that we are not fighting this pandemic alone so to be honored by other first responders who are also out there, risking their lives, means a lot,” Rojas said.

While Rojas says she, herself, has been holding up emotionally and mentally, she does attribute it to a strong support system, which she also works to provide to her own staff of over 100 employees in the emergency department. This includes nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), CNA’s and secretaries.

Her job entails working 10-12 hour shifts, five days a week, where she not only schedules 22 ER nurses in a 24-hour period but is having to keep their morale up as well.

Rojas said, “We don’t go into nursing to be called heroes, we do it to care for patients when they’re at their most vulnerable, being on the frontlines fighting the pandemic as a nurse in the emergency department now, we feel vulnerable, so to have some appreciation fills us with positive energy and and helps us to carry us forward through the next couple of weeks.”