It takes a special person to be a nurse.

You care for people who, hours earlier, you didn’t even know existed.

You feed them, bathe them, treat their pain, listen to their stories and at times, help them pass from this life to whatever awaits all of us after.

I know what it takes because, for years, I was a registered nurse serving the people of New Mexico.

I am so blessed to still be serving New Mexico, but in a different capacity, as the CEO and president of Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC).

The past two years have been overwhelming, and while we all have lived this experience, nurses have been on the front lines of the pandemic.

Never before did we hold up iPads for a loved one to say goodbye.

Never before did we treat patients daily while all the time worrying that we may take their deadly disease home to our loved ones and children.

And never before has our community needed nurses more than we do right now.

I am proud of SRMC and our nurses. I am also proud to be able to offer a modest bonus to all of our full-time and part-time non-management employees this holiday season.

It certainly isn’t everything they deserve, but it’s a good start.

Jamie Silva-Steele

There has been a recent effort to have nurses at SRMC unionize.

When the petition for unionization was filed this fall, we believed it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction, and a few weeks ago, a district court judge agreed.

As a result, SRMC can follow to our normal protocols and practices.

We are proud of the constructive, open relationship we have had between hospital administrators and our medical staff, including our nurses and all staff, throughout this process.

Moving forward, my team remains committed to continuing our efforts to work directly with our nurses to address the challenges they are facing.

I want to thank members of our public for doing your part to honor our nurses and all our providers and employees by getting vaccinated, receiving your booster shot when you are eligible and having your eligible children vaccinated.

We are all in this together, and we must do our part to reduce the spread and mutation of COVID.

I also want to publicly thank our nurses and all our staff again.

Your work may be within our hospital walls and out of sight, but it is vital work, and we are committed to ensuring the public know the lengths you go to every day to put our patients first.

(Jamie Silva-Steele is the president and CEO of UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, as well as a registered nurse.)