CLEVELAND — Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been a lot of double shifts and sleepless night for healthcare workers across the country.
"It’s been really exhausting," says Rolando Mirandilla, a University Hospitals nurse in Parma, told us.
"Stressful and I would say challenging is probably the best word to use," Catherine Wilson, an assistant nurse manager downtown, added.
"Busy, challenging, [a] lot of emotions and lots of hard work," Dr. Rana Hejal, the medical director of Cleveland’s intensive care unit, said.
But now, all three are getting an amazing reward.
The Cleveland Browns organization has announced Mirandilla, Wilson, and Hejal have all been selected as "health care heroes" and will be the team's special guests at Super Bowl LV this Sunday. The trio were selected by UH leadership based on their "unwavering commitment to the community and for making impactful personal and professional sacrifices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," a press release issued Tuesday read.
All three employees will receive tickets to Sunday's big game, and additionally, the Browns and NFL are covering their airfare and hotel accommodations in recognition of their "tireless service and exceptional care, particularly during the past year."
“We are so very proud that Rana, Catherine and Rolando will represent UH’s amazing health care workers at the Super Bowl,“ said Dr. Daniel Simon, UH Chief Clinical & Scientific Officer and President of UH Cleveland Medical Center. “We are so thankful for the generosity of the NFL and Cleveland Browns in honoring our dedicated, resilient and compassionate caregivers who have sacrificed so much during this long and challenging pandemic.”
All of them were overjoyed by the news.
"It’s going to be my very first time that I’m going to be able to go to a football game," Mirandilla noted. "I was really speechless."
"I think I said 'Are you serious?' like six times," Wilson said.
"Everybody is happy that I’m going, but I wish I could take everybody," Hejal said.
The workers join a group of health care professionals from across the country who will participate in various Super Bowl LV festivities at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida
All participants will have completed their COVID-19 vaccination prior to traveling.
“As the NFL season culminates in Tampa Bay, we are thanking our health care heroes who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events. “We are honored to salute those who have demonstrated dedication, commitment and courage and deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration.”
The mini vacation and break from reality comes at a perfect time for these three, who have been knee deep in fighting the pandemic for almost a year.
"It’s just like when you're at war and you say, 'Can I have a five-minute breather to catch my breath and then let’s go back in there and do what we have to do?'" Mirandilla lamented.
"I haven’t taken a vacation in a long time, obviously, so I’m looking forward to seeing the sunshine," Wilson said.
"Whenever you see the blue ocean and the blue sky, it gives you hope," Hejal gushed. "We’ll have it, then come back and deliver more hope."
By the way, all of them think the Buccaneers will beat the Chiefs. Read more on their careers below:
- Dr. Rana Hejal, Medical Director, MICU, UH Cleveland Medical Center – Dr. Hejal has spent the past 23 years with University Hospitals and serves the Northeast Ohio community as a pulmonary and critical care doctor. She currently resides in Pepper Pike.
- Rolando Mirandilla, registered nurse at Parma Medical Center – Mirandilla, a die-hard Cleveland sports fan, will be experiencing his first professional football game in-person when attending Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay. Mirandilla has been with UH for 17 years and lives in Cleveland.
- Catherine Wilson, emergency room assistant nurse manager at UH Cleveland Medical Center – Wilson, who calls North Royalton home, has been with University Hospitals for 14 years. She hoped to further challenge herself through her dedication to Northeast Ohio patients and transferred to her current role in the emergency room one month prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.