32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Sebastian River Medical Center nurses help on the front lines of the pandemic

Photo: Nurses from Sebastian River Medical Center Volunteer to Support Sister Hospitals in Massachusetts

When Steward Health Care – which owns Sebastian River Medical Center – put out a call to its staff to volunteer on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, registered nurses Christine Flick and Amanda Bermudez stepped forward “without reservation,” according to a Steward spokesperson.

Along with five other SRMC nurses, they left their homes and families and headed to Massachusetts, the state where Steward Health got its start, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus. It currently has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, and the fourth highest number of deaths.

Early on in the pandemic, Steward Health made the decision to establish dedicated hospitals for COVID-19 patients in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus and to conserve PPE, or personal protective equipment like masks and gowns.

The first of Steward’s eight eastern Massachusetts hospitals to have beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients was Carney Hospital in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Steward has since added ICUs for COVID-19 patients at three other hospitals.

Flick and Bermudez, along with fellow nurses Jayne Barrett, Justine Rozmerski, Chris Heitzman, Jennifer Johnson and Jennifer Montanez, arrived in Boston April 14, just as Massachusetts was at the start of what has become a nightmarish surge.

“My family was very supportive,” said Flick, who is married with two children. “They know I am always ready to jump in and help others.”

Flick, who trained in the 1990s at what was Indian River Community College, began her career in pediatrics and women’s health at Holmes Regional Medical Center, where she worked for 16 years. Later, she moved to the Wuesthoff Health System, which includes the two Brevard hospitals now owned by Steward Health.

Flick said support she received from the hospitals she has worked in, where she was encouraged to “skill up” and expand her knowledge, helped prepare her for the challenges she has had to deal in Massachusetts.

Starting out in pediatrics and women’s health, she eventually picked up shifts in progressive care units including trauma as well as neonatal intensive care.

“I feel I have the skill to work in any setting, with the assistance of other skilled nurses," said Flick, who grew up in the Florida Keys and spent her high school years in Alaska before returning to Florida.

The volunteer trip was her first time to Massachusetts, and she has enjoyed learning a little from co-workers about New England history. But there has been little time to talk about any topic other than COVID-19 and how to treat victims of the disease.

Bermudez, a Vero native and a graduate of Vero Beach High School, earned a certificate in licensed practical nursing at Indian River State College. She went on to become an RN through Keiser University, where she continues coursework toward a B.S. in nursing.

“I’m seeing patients of all ages and ethnicities,” she said of her experience in Massachusetts. “It is sad to see and hear of the loss of life and loved ones due to this pandemic, but what’s why we’re here – to help.”

Leaving for more than a month in Massachusetts meant saying goodbye to six children and her husband, Ruben, who works with the Fellsmere Police Department.

“They miss me and of course I miss them,” she says. “This will be my first Mother’s Day away from my family – ever.”

This is the first time Bermudez has traveled as a nurse. Each day, she says, involves making adjustments. “But that’s to be expected,” she said.

With Massachusetts in stay-at-home mode, she and the team from Sebastian River have been more or less confined to the hotel in their off hours, slipping away to the market for food but otherwise staying put.

“I am very thankful that I have the ability and the training to assist in this time of need,” she said. “I see people coming together, being thankful for what they have and passing it on to those in need. Compassion is being spread everywhere.

“I am not a hero. I took an oath when I graduated nursing school and passed my boards,” Bermudez said. Nevertheless, she has been moved by the show of support from the community there.

Flick, too, said she is “constantly being thanked by strangers on the street. It makes me proud to be a nurse.”

“I commend this team of nurses for their passion to their profession and wanting to care for patients in these extreme circumstances,” said Ron Bierman, Sebastian River Medical Center’s president.