Kirsten Del Mastro, night shift lead respiratory therapist at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center, spends long hours caring for patients with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit.

Hospital restrictions prevent families from visiting those patients. So Del Mastro and her co-workers help families connect with their loved ones.

“It’s definitely a hard process for the patient and their families,” Del Mastro said. “We FaceTime family members so they can talk to their loved one. We have a great, great team.”

The ICU team has devised a number of creative solutions to help connect patients with their loved ones.

“We post signs in patients’ rooms that they’re going to see when they get better,” Del Mastro said.

The patients on ventilators have cards from loved ones posted right outside their rooms “so they’ll know we’re rooting for them,” she said.

Community members can help by sending get-well cards to COVID patients at the University of New Mexico Hospital or SRMC.

“If people could see what we see, they’d have a different understanding,” Del Mastro said. “People are passing without family members. It’s not worth going out for any reason unless it’s an emergency. It’s someone’s life, you know?”

The plight of patients who are isolated from their loved ones tugs the heartstrings of the ICU staff.

“We have a really good team, a compassionate team,” she said. “We cry with the families. That’s been very different from the past. But we are that for our patients now, too.”

Here’s where to send a get-well card to a hospitalized COVID-19 patient:

  • Sandoval Regional Medical Center, 3001 Broadmoor Blvd. NE, Attn: Irene Lunneborg, Rio Rancho, NM 87144; or
  • UNM Hospital, 2211 Lomas NE, Attn: Barbara Temer, Albuquerque, NM 87106

To donate to employees at either hospital, visit