As cities and businesses juggle ideas to reopen, nurses and doctors on the front-line in hospitals continue going face-to-face with the virus that derailed everything in the beginning.
“It’s what we do,” chuckled Tomi Watts.
Watts has been a registered nurse for more than 20 years.
“I care about my patients,” she said.
Now those patients include people admitted to Sharp Chula Vista’s delicate COVID unit. Watts said she loves it when she can send a patient home.
“It’s like a joyous occasion. You’re just so happy for them and happy for their family,” she said.
Watts spoke to NBC 7 in the lobby of the new Ayres Hotel in Chula Vista. She decided to isolate herself to protect her husband and to set an example for other medical providers.
“When I go back to work, I can encourage more of them to do this as well,” she said.
Watts took advantage of an offer at Ayres Hotel where medical providers can get a hotel room for free to allow them to self-isolate.
“I think it really comes down to our owners just being a family and wanting to do something for our community,” said Amy Lassalette, the hotel’s Director of Sales.
Lassalette said California’s stay-at-home order and the global pandemic brutalized the hotel’s bottom line less than six months after it opened in the new Millenia development on the eastern side of Chula Vista.
“It’s tough on everyone,” she said. “The hospitality industry, in particular, got hit really, really hard.”
Despite the loss of business, Lassalette said the family-owned hotel decided to make rooms available for medical providers like Watts for free.
“And have them be their best so that way they can take care of our families,” she said.
“And be able to go back to work refreshed,” added Watts.
“She is exactly why we wanted to do this,” said Lassalette.
Lassalette said the Ayres Hotel also adopted public health standards seen at other businesses. The front desk has a plexiglass shield; the breakfast area has social distancing marks on the ground to keep guests separated, and the owners invested in hospital-grade equipment to disinfect rooms and hallways.
“Not only to make sure that our guests are safe, but that our employees are safe as well,” said Lassalette.
It’s what Watts needed right now.
“I’m protecting my husband and he understands that, too,”
She also wants to inspire her fellow medical providers.
“You can go through this. You will go through this. This is one challenge amid a lot of challenges.”
Ayres Hotel’s general manager said they intend to make the free rooms available to medical providers through at least the end of May. The El Rancho Motel in Coronado is also offering free rooms for medical providers.