Everyday Healthcare Heroes: Outreach Nurses

Meet Ariel, Dorothy and Missy: three extraordinary women bringing their skills and dedication to the streets of Los Angeles to care for people experiencing homelessness.

Meet the Outreach Nurses: Ariel, Dorothy and Missy

These extraordinary women—Ariel, Dorothy, and Missy—bring their skills and dedication to the streets of Los Angeles to care for people experiencing homelessness, with an emphasis on COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccinations. And as our unhoused neighbors continue to be hit so hard by the pandemic, we are grateful for their tireless work for our community. They are an inspiration to us all.

Meet Ariel Ramirez, EMT

What is your job title and what do you do at work? 

I am an EMT at the Department of Health Services for Los Angeles County. I am part of a multidisciplinary team that consists of RNs, PAs, other medical professionals, and community outreach workers that are familiar with people experiencing homelessness (PEH).


As a team we go to encampments around West LA and offer basic medical care with an emphasis on COVID-19 testing. If someone is symptomatic or comes back positive for COVID-19, we offer Quarantine Isolation hotels where patients can recover in a safe and clean environment staffed with medical professionals. If they choose to stay at their location, we will provide wellness checks. At the beginning of February 2021, we also started holding COVID-19 vaccination events for PEH.


Where do you work? 

I work in West LA covering encampments in cities like Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City, and Malibu.


What makes your job unique?

Our work environment is the streets of LA. Instead of having patients come to us, we go to them. We go to different encampments every day and offer medical services, food, hygiene supplies, and try to connect people to important resources. We have to carry all our medical equipment and testing supplies with us to work in the field and every day is different.


What do you love to do away from work? 

I love being outdoors and spending time on hiking trails. I would love to go to more national parks in 2021!


What is the most memorable moment from the past year?  

My most memorable moment from the past year was administering my first COVID-19 vaccination in early February 2021. California expanded the scope of practice to allow EMTs to administer the vaccine which was very exciting for me! That day was what my whole team had been working towards and preparing for so many months.


What women inspire you? 

My mom! She has been a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years and sparked my interest in healthcare. She first taught me the important basics of patient advocacy and the importance of educating patients so they can make the best, most informed decisions about their own healthcare. 


What message would you share with the DOLAN community? 

Everyone has a unique story and you never know what people are going through, so please be kind!

Meet Dorothy Desty, RN

What is your job title and what do you do at work? 

I’m a registered nurse and I work with the DHS COVID response team, assisting in providing medical care to the homeless population.


Where do you work?

I work in SPA 5 (Service Planning Area 5) of Los Angeles County. We cover Santa Monica and Venice.


What do you love to do away from work? 

I enjoy making candles during my time away from work. 


What is your key lesson learned in the past year? 

The key lesson I’ve learned in the past year is that you should never take anything for granted. In my everyday life it’s easy to not realize how blessed I truly am, but in serving the community that I work with it’s hard to go on about my day not realizing just how blessed having access to everyday things such as a hot meal or a place to call home can be, especially during a pandemic.


What women inspire you? 

My mother and my sister inspire my nursing career and everyday life. After my mother had a stroke and went through years of physical therapy and having to start all over and learn to walk again, I knew I could never give up on whatever challenges I would face later on. My sister overcame breast cancer while raising two small children and even after recovering she ended up fostering two more children which taught me that there’s always more room in our hearts to love.


What message would you share with the DOLAN community? 

There’s always a way. During difficult times and through hardships there is always something positive waiting for you at the end of the dark times. 


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Meet Missy Garcia, RN

What is your job title and what do you do at work? 

I’m a member of Crisis COVID-19 response team from DHS-LA County Outreach for PEH (people experiencing homelessness).

What makes your job unique?

My job is so unique—we go out in the streets of Los Angeles County, covering all its cities and municipalities which is wide in landscape area. We walk miles from flat, rugged, mountainous, wash and riverbanks, under bridges, encampments, parks, and other places where very few healthcare team members dare, to serve the most vulnerable, marginalized, underserved and already suffering citizens of LA County.

What do you love to do away from work? 

Before COVID-19, I was a member of St. Rose of Lima Master Chorale Choir, which I loved the most. I also dance and am able to cook. I am also an avid traveler and love traveling...to date I've been to 34 countries in the world. Still looking forward to traveling sometime when our crisis is over.

What is the most memorable moment from the past year, and what is your key lesson learned in the past year? 

My memorable moments for the past year were meeting new colleagues in the healthcare industry, who are brave enough to join and battle the COVID-19 pandemic selflessly—not knowing the outcome and with no cure for a highly contagious disease. It’s like walking in darkness.

One key lesson I learned is that no matter how new COVID-19 is, there’s always someone so brave and so optimistic that a solution will come, regardless of its veracity or mystery. Hard to break human spirit—it is the identity of our genome.

What women inspire you? 

My mom, dad and my family are the best source of my inspiration despite their imperfections. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is another one. But there are so many, to count them all, especially the unseen brave women... we will never know nor meet.

What message would you share with the DOLAN community? 

For all our DOLAN Community I say: you can never break a rope that is woven as one. The strength is enormous, and the road is endless. I end by saying a helping hand is a chain that can never be broken because all it takes is one person or one company to keep it rolling.

Dorothy, Ariel and Missy serving at The Laundry Truck LA (where they were met with some beautiful flowers from our founder, Jodie!)

DOLAN’S Everyday Healthcare Heroes is an ongoing series featuring some of the women who are working so hard, day in and day out, and making such an enormous difference in our lives. If you are a healthcare worker, please click here to request a questionnaire for sharing your story with us. Or, if you know of someone you’d like to nominate for us to consider spotlighting, please send us their name and contact information. 

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