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They are the ones working tirelessly to save lives; the ones caring for the sick 24-7, the ones responding to emergencies.

They are the ones keeping our communities and streets clean and green while so many of us stay at home.

They are the ones producing goods we need — and keeping them on the shelves or shipped to our doors — when our families need it most.

They are the ones cooking, serving, and delivering food to sustain people of all ages during this challenging time.

They are the ones providing essential services around the clock to keep the world running.

They are everyday heroes — the ultimate warriors. It’s important for us to come together and recognize the contributions of these workers on our front lines. They are keeping things moving forward while we work to beat this pandemic. Please join us in saying thanks to these outstanding members of our local communities.

Katherine Lopez

Katherine Lopez is a registered pediatric nurse — and a warrior in our local community. After graduating from Florida Southern College with a nursing degree, she began her career in the float team at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. In this role, she rotated duties in eight different specialty areas of pediatric medicine. Katherine particularly found meaning in emergency room work due to the support she was able to provide to children — as well as their parents — during some of the most difficult scenarios.

Katherine’s current role is serving as a pediatric PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) RN at Lakeland Regional Health. Normally, she is guiding children and their families through processes pre-surgery and post-surgery, stabilizing patients, and preparing them to return home.

Today, she is focused on the adults. Katherine has had to adapt as the whole hospital has, covering where the COVID-19 crisis has created overflow of the need.  Whether caring for children or adults, though, she loves the support and communication-related aspects of care the most. She knows how much her words and expressions impact her patients and their families.

During this outbreak, the world needs people like Katherine: professionals who care for others with compassion, who devote their experience — and their heart and soul! — to wellness. We are very proud of her.




Amber Shaffer

Amber has been a nurse for five years, but never knew that days like this would have come so early in her career. She’s working at Advent Health in Orlando, Florida. Amber is — regularly — a nurse in the transplant unit. However, this unit has been completely converted; she is now directly providing aid to patients with COVID-19.

Amber is shadowing ICU nurses right now, working as a team to personally ensure that patients have what they need to recover.

She’s also a mother. Her daughter’s name is Harper, and she’ll be 6 years old in August. Amber hasn’t seen Harper in 7 weeks. Fortunately, she has been able to return home, but due to her exposure to the virus, she remains unable to spend time with her family.

Amber remains working to help save lives, and our thoughts are with her, her daughter, her family, and her patients. Fortunately, the hospital where Amber works has recently been able to start the process of returning to “normal”. This has allowed her unit to be converted back to a transplant unit. As the risk of infection is reduced she will soon be able to spend time with her daughter. Harper will finally get to show her mom the new tooth that is replacing the one that came out while they were apart.




Susan Kennedy

Her name is Susan, and she’s in New York, having temporarily moved away from Lakeland and her family: her husband, 3 grown kids, and her 13 year old daughter. Her mission: to make even just one person feel like there is hope and kindness still left in this crazy world. Susan has been at Lakeland Regional Health (LRH) for 28 years and is a registered nurse (RN) on the post-surgery unit. She’s accustomed to hectic and critical scenarios. She and her husband raised their kids here in Lakeland. But one of her sons was working as a chef in NYC and was forced to move back home because of the pandemic, and this was what moved her.

There are some others from LRH in New York City; she traveled up with another RN, but he is not living in the same hotel. Apparently, they have them living all over Manhattan — Susan herself is working at a hospital in Queeens, up and on the bus at 6AM, PPE armor donned and working at 7AM, off at 7PM, and back on the bus at 7:30PM… 6 days a week. She is doing vital work and providing aid in a scenario that feels helpless to those batting it. She said the patients fail quickly — so quickly, workers are unable to allow them up for fear they will find them on the floor or in the bathroom, deceased.

Susan is asking only for continued prayers for all working the front lines, for their patients, and for those families affected by the unrelenting virus.