Dignity Health ICU Nurse Shares Personal Story of Hope During National Nurses’ Week

Arnold Ubalde, a registered nurse at Dignity Health – Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Canter (GMHHC), spends every weekend in the Intensive Care Unit. He is one of thousands of nurses across the country on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as part of the hospital’s ICU new grad program in February 2009 and never imagined what he would face in the ICU exactly 11 years later.

Many ICU nurses are self-isolating to protect their loved ones from potential exposure to the virus. Arnold is no different. He showers and changes at the hospital before heading home to his wife, Lerissa, and 17-year-old son, Joseph. Arnold and his family are vigilant with infection precautions, including social distancing and hand hygiene, as Joseph is immunocompromised and the reason Arnold became a nurse.

In 2003, Arnold’s son fell ill when he was less than a year old. After an evaluation at a clinic in LA, the doctor recommended additional testing. Within a matter of weeks, the young family, vacationing in California, ended up in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit fighting for their son’s life. Then the diagnosis came: myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease that was usually diagnosed in adults.

Arnold remembers the moment his son coded in his arms and it was then that he vowed to become a nurse. As the hospital stays, doctor’s visits and medications mounted, Arnold felt as though he couldn’t do the one thing he wanted to do most – care for his baby boy. He made a personal promise to learn everything he could to help his family and now he is committed to helping patients and families just like his at Glendale Memorial Hospital.

Today, Joseph is a thriving senior at Van Nuys High School, was a volunteer at Glendale Memorial Hospital and hopes to one day be a nurse, just like his dad. This year, as students are taught virtually and proms and graduations are canceled, Arnold and his family are grateful to be alive, happy to help others and hopeful for all the future holds.