Idyllwild resident Cathie Davis has called this mountain her home for 36 years. Growing up in Orange County, Davis knew she wanted to be a nurse and had plenty of options on where she could pursue that goal.
“When I was nine years old, I told my mom I was going to be a nurse,” Davis said. “It’s what I always wanted to do.”
At the age of 14, Davis started as a “candy striper” volunteering and assisting staff in the obstetrics department at Orange County Medical Center, which is now the UCI Medical Center. At the time, volunteers were called candy stripers because they wore red and white striped uniforms.
Davis went to Golden West College in Huntington Beach to become a licensed vocational nurse, which jump-started her career and helped her land her first job.
Davis started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County in 1975.
“I always wanted to work with kids,” Davis said. “So, my first job was at Children’s Hospital of Orange working in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] and Oncology.”
After moving to Idyllwild, she continued her education at College of the Desert and Mt. San Jacinto College to become a registered nurse (RN), eventually completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University of Phoenix.
“You couldn’t choose to take time off back then, so I decided to become a teacher so I could stay home with my kids,” Davis said. For 19 years, Davis raised her kids and helped many families by teaching preschool and pre-K.
“I worked at Idyllwild Child Development Center for 12 years until it closed,” explained Davis. “My mom and I built Trinity Pines the Children’s Place. It was open for five years. I then taught preschool and pre-K from my home for two years while I went to school for my RN.” Davis explained.
Once her kids were grown, Davis went back to her life-long passion — nursing — and returned to Eisenhower Health. Davis worked at Eisenhower Health for six years before she had her kids.
Davis has worked at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage for a total of 19 years. Currently, she is the director of nurses for 4 East, which handles general surgery. She is also the director of pediatrics.
Davis is now facing the unprecedented battle that many are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
She oversees 90 employees in 4 East, and her unit that once focused on surgery recovery, is now a COVID-19 unit.
“As nurses, we typically hold hands and have close contact with our patients,” said Davis. “Now, we have gloves, gowns, visors and masks. So, it’s difficult to provide that personal care with all that gear on but it is for our protection. We can’t take care of the patients if we don’t protect ourselves.”
Even in these challenging times, Davis looks at her career and when asked if becoming a nurse was everything she thought it would be, she answered: “Yes. It’s a blessing to be with people when they are not at their best — emotionally and physically trying to recover. The unit I work in is a surgical unit and we know how to help people get well.”
“It’s fulfilling with lots of happiness and sometimes a few tears,” Davis added.
Davis explained to those looking to go into the nursing field, “You need to have a passion for people. It’s such a privilege to have that contact with a person. I’ve probably cared for 10,000 people in my career and every one of them was a privilege.”
Since COVID-19, Davis has been facing a different kind of nursing. However, Davis has seen humanity pull together in this time of crisis.
“One thing I’ve seen through this is that people are watching out for each other,” said Davis. “Neighbors and friends are reaching out to each other to make sure they are okay. People are being kind to one another. I love that.”
Davis also explained how much it means to her for her patients to come back and visit.
“Some patients make full recoveries and sometimes patients don’t make a full recovery,” Davis said. “But they have a quality of life that they are thankful for. That makes us happy and it makes our day to have patients come to see us afterwards.”
While this isn’t a story about COVID-19, I couldn’t bypass the opportunity to ask Davis what her unit could use from the public.
“I do know that gowns are still a challenge for the hospital to find and N95 masks that we would have a hard time functioning without,” Davis said. “That would be wonderful if someone has a contact for either of those items.”
With gratitude, Davis added, “Every day it’s really amazing. Every day there is a donor who has donated meals, sent us letters or handwritten cards, and care packages to the staff and patients. It’s just so endearing. It means so much to the staff. We need it.”
To donate to the COVID-19 fund at Eisenhower Medical Center, visit https://eisenhowerhealth.org/giving/ways-to-give/give-online/covid-19-response-fund/.