COVID-19: Forgotten Frontline Workers - Keiser University
For Keiser University's Coronavirus Updates, Click Here
Keiser University Seal

COVID-19: Forgotten Frontline Workers

Silvia Lobaina works directly with COVID-19 patients every day. She suits up in personal protective equipment: a disposable bodysuit with a cinched hood, gloves, mask and a face shield. Her patients are so weak from the virus, most of them lost the ability to brush their teeth or sit up in bed. “I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and what I love,” Lobaina is an occupational therapist.

 

The Keiser graduate is a type of COVID-19 frontline worker that most people don’t readily think of: “We are not being heard; we are not being seen, but we are on the frontlines.” In fact, Lobaina works only with COVID-19 positive patients in a skilled nursing facility. Her patients were initially treated and quarantined in a hospital. Once stabilized, they were sent to a skilled nursing facility because of weakened muscles and lack of mobility. Patients who test positive for the virus are isolated, which means they don’t have the same access to occupational therapy, even inside skilled nursing facilities.

 

“These people need help. These patients need to be moved.” That’s where Lobaina steps in. She carries therapeutic exercise equipment into patient rooms and works one-on-one for an hour each day. She usually sees five patients a day. She works with them on strengthening their muscles so they can return to performing basic, daily activities. “I try my best to get them as independent as possible.”

 

Lobaina not only shares a connection with her patients, but she also carries a deep appreciation for the occupational therapy field. She spent a lot of time in a skilled nursing facility, as a child, after her grandfather suffered a massive stroke. For years Lobaina accompanied her grandfather to therapy sessions in a rehabilitation center. She was intrigued and remembers asking the occupational therapists lots of questions.

 

“Everything you do in therapy has science behind it,” Lobaina said. She realized it’s more than exercise; there is a purpose behind the movements. Lobaina learned the purpose behind the exercises after enrolling at Keiser University’s Miami campus where she earned an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The university’s one-class-at-a-time and one-class-per-month schedule allowed her to continue to work as a rehab technician at an outpatient orthopedic center while obtaining her degree. After graduating she continued her education and earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science .

 

Lobaina worked as a certified occupational therapist. She gained employment in travel therapy which allowed her to experience different units in hospitals and facilities on the West Coast of the country. After six years, Lobaina realized she wanted to do more for her patients. She chose to return to Keiser University, for the third time, to complete a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the school’s Fort Lauderdale Campus. Lobaina said because of the university’s flexible schedule, she was able to continue working and flying back and forth across the country to attend graduate school on Fridays and Saturdays. She said she also found the tuition at Keiser University much cheaper than graduate schools near her. Lobaina earned a master’s in December 2019. “I’m very proud of what I have accomplished.”

 

Today, the 34-year-old uses her degree providing occupational therapy to COVID-19 patients, many of whom, she says have not moved in months. Lobaina gets emotional when she thinks about her patients’ who didn’t receive occupational therapy because they were quarantined: “This is someone’s dad! This is someone’s grandfather! I think about them as if they were my parents and if they were my parent, I would want them to be moving.”

 

The simple objective of motion becomes a difficult undertaking when you have not moved in months. One of Lobaina’s recent most fulfilling moments with a COVID-19 patient occurred with a 64-year-old man who could not stand out of bed. After a week of working with him, he was able to walk enough to take a shower for the first time in months: “It makes me feel really good. This is what I like to do. I like to help others. This is why I do what I do.” Her goal is for all her patients to recover and be discharged, so, like her grandfather, she can see them literally walk out on their own.

Mrs. Percy and Mr. Williams believed in me. They were more than instructors, they tried to get to know you as a person and tried to understand your goals so they could push you towards them. And Mrs. Crawford from student services helped me find a job before I even graduated. She was dedicated to my overall success.

Jessica Kircher

Going to Keiser University was one of the greatest experiences in my life. All of my deans, professors, and staff made me feel that I was a part of something very special, and I am. I would recommend for anyone to get their education at Keiser University.

Belinda Haney

The two instructors that have impacted my life are Mr. Williams and Mrs. Percy. Both of them believed in my ability to become a great graphic designer, regardless of how I felt about my skills. I appreciate their motivation to get me to where I am today.

Justin Pugh

Beyond the curriculum of the courses, the lessons the instructors have taught me have paid dividends in my real work experiences. How to respond to criticisms, project and time management, interview skills, the list goes on and on. At the end of the day, they not only showed me how to design, but they taught me how to be a professional.

Ryan Bushey

If not for my education at Keiser I probably would not be where I am today, in both life and career. It is because of going to Keiser and the instructors I had that I joined a club started by Mr. Williams, The Lakeland Shooters Photography Group, which allowed me to venture into an amazing and very creative field that I use to enhance all aspects of my life.

Anthony Sassano

The Design program at Keiser University was filled with real world learning and hands on instruction… Based on the portfolio I created while a student at Keiser University, I landed a job in Graphic Design for a major online retailer immediately after graduation.

Ty Fitzgerald

The year and a half I spent in the program better prepared me for attaining a job in the field…As a hands-on learner, the project-centered teaching was perfect for me.

Jackson Tejada

Keiser University has given me the opportunity to embrace a career change… It has opened the door for a timely graduation and quick return to the work force…

Dale Caverly

Without the education I received at Keiser University, I would not be where I am today!

Meisha Ebanks, R.N.

I not only received an excellent education but also encouragement and training that built my self-confidence every day.

Nidia Barrios

I realize the amount of knowledge I gained and feel that the educational experiences have developed me in to a person who can move higher up the career ladder.

Carlos Ramirez Flores

Keiser University’s MBA program has renewed my mind, changed the way I think, and given me a new sense of purpose.  The professors transformed my attitude and behavior, gave me the self-confidence I was lacking, and restored my energy.

Connie Sue Centrella

It has been great attending and graduating from Keiser University.  Because of the small class sizes, I was able to build good relationships with classmates and professors.  The PA professors care very much about the progress and success of the students and have been great advisors every step of the way through the program.

Annelise Merriner, PA-C

Attending Keiser University and getting my degree was the best decision I have ever made.  The small class sizes and personalized attention helped me get my degree quickly.  The hands-on experience and the education landed me a job at a neighboring law firm.

Dedrick Saxon

I chose Keiser because it had everything—small classes, caring professors, hands-on learning, and counselors that are really there for you.  I feel like I’m part of a family here, not just a number.

Natalie Dou

After being denied for several promotions at my current employer, I decided that I needed to further my education.  Since graduating from Keiser with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I have been promoted and I am able to obtain positions that weren’t available to me before.

Laurie Williams

Keiser helped change my life by getting my education at the right school! I had been going to another school before, I dropped out because I felt that I was not getting enough information. When I found out about Keiser, I was pleased because the instructors were great.

Nadege Dor

My decision to attend Keiser University has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I chose to enroll in the Information Technology program… The one-class-a-month pace helped incredibly with my self-discipline.

Marla Hadley

The BA for Business Administration at Keiser has to be one of the best in the nation. Keiser takes the basics that are taught at the Associates level and uses them to strengthen your skills and knowledge.

Vivian R. Howard, BA in Business Administration Graduate

I found that Keiser University’s Nuclear Medicine program of advanced studies and small class size was a perfect fit. I never came across a faculty member who wasn’t truly interested.

Gustavo Gonzalez, Nuclear Medicine Technology Graduate