You always know when there’s a “Code Happy” at Broward Health Medical Center. It’s hard not to notice a parade of proud and happy hospital workers dancing to music piped through the intercom system and waving pom poms and crying! That’s what happens when a COVID-19 patient is discharged, and even though Demi Genao had no idea she’d be starting her career during a pandemic, the Code Happy celebration is one of her favorite things about being a registered nurse.
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“We play a happy song as we bring them downstairs, and it’s a huge party where we can laugh and cry with family members,” says Demi. “It’s really sweet.”
Helping Others is a Passion
The recent nursing school graduate received her degree from Broward College in December 2018. She says she always wanted to help those in need. It started with animals when she was a child, and as she grew up, she transitioned to wanting to help sick children and adults.
“The feeling of helping someone who is really sick and seeing them get better, knowing I had a small hand in that, is something that is extremely fulfilling,” she says. “I feel like I am really making a difference.”
The way she has adapted to her nursing role in the first few years and working through a pandemic with grace, courage and compassion is the reason Demi was nominated for the “CGI Heroes: Celebrating Strength” contest. The contest was launched to recognize four other area residents who have gone above and beyond to help others with a $2,000 cash prize. She is the third winner in the contest.
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“I am so appreciative for the nomination and for winning,” says Demi. “It’s kind of crazy because not every newbie nurse is going to deal with a pandemic so that was challenging to adjust to. While I was still learning the basics, all of a sudden, we have to learn this brand new thing. No one knew what it was, and it was difficult. I feel a lot more comfortable now being in the role. Every day, I learn something new. My co-workers are amazing, and the patients are so grateful and appreciative. When they tell me that I’m making a difference that’s what I love.”
She works 12-hour shifts three days a week and usually comes home exhausted, but that doesn’t stop Demi from buying and hand-delivering food to the elderly in her off time. “It really started with my grandparents,” she says. “My grandma doesn’t go out too much, and I know it was hard for her to go out and buy groceries because she was so scared of getting sick.”
Demi started there but then it snowballed, as many of her grandmother’s friends expressed the need for help.
The Snowball Effect
“I do a bulk shopping trip for bread, eggs and other necessities and drop it off on their doorsteps,” says Demi.
The 25-year-old nurse says she has never won anything in her life and when she found out at about the CGI prize at work, it was an overwhelming surprise. The best part? The nominator was her mom – Josie.
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“I nominated her because she inspires me, and I am so proud of her,” says Josie. “I would see her come home from working at the hospital at the point of complete physical exhaustion and in tears some days. But she would just wake up the next day and go deliver food to people in need. I told her to stay home and recuperate, but she would say she couldn’t. She had to help people.”
Demi has some good examples at home. Josie works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is currently helping flood victims in Louisiana. Her father is a Miami-Dade County firefighter, and her brother is in school for emergency management.
“For someone being so young and not even thinking of themselves, just makes me so proud,” Josie says. “Demi is selfless and tireless. She has faith in people, is non-judgmental and has a kind heart.”