Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Winelia Flores Ortiz, a 2019 Kettering College graduate, served on the frontlines as a respiratory therapist during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now working on her doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy at Kettering College.

Kettering College Graduate Serves on Frontlines

Story by Lauren Brooks

Winelia Flores Ortiz, a 2019 graduate, chose to attend Kettering College because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. She earned her degree in respiratory therapy because she has family members who suffer from respiratory illnesses. “Never in a million years could I have imagined a pandemic happening less than a year after graduation,” Ortiz said.

While others were at home under self-quarantine, Ortiz was on the frontlines—working on the COVID-19 unit at Sycamore Medical Center, serving patients, answering tough questions, and having even harder conversations with patients with failing health from March to June 2020. “It was more challenging, scary, and nerve-wracking than I can describe,” she said. “But my experience at Kettering College prepared me for the unprecedented.”

Because of her education at Kettering College, she was prepared to care for people at their most vulnerable. Ortiz credits the knowledge and competency she gained at Kettering College as what helped her through the crisis. Her hands-on learning through the simulation lab made her feel confident in a room with seasoned nurses and health care providers.

Her team had to innovate often, from expanding care options and training additional staff, to adapting to equipment challenges and finding new resources. Ortiz leaned on her training in decisionmaking and problem-solving from her courses, which helped her look for new approaches while stretching their resources as far as possible.

The high expectations of her professors echoed in her mind—to care for the whole person, stay calm, restore health, and communicate.

“The compassion and spiritual care I learned at Kettering College was, perhaps, even more important during this crisis,” Ortiz said. “Nothing could have fully prepared anyone in our field for all of the challenges we are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but being trained at Kettering College gave me the knowledge, flexibility, compassion, and dedication to serve on the frontlines.”

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