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Community | Press Release

On Monday evening, March 4, a small ceremony at Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) unveiled the COVID Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Surrounded by luminaries, the intimate ceremony of about 150 YRMC employees included memories, music, tears and prayer. The observance honored patients and provided a healing moment for those healthcare heroes who carried the world on their shoulders throughout the historic struggle.

“This memorial will serve as a lasting symbol of our journey through one of the most challenging times in our history,” said Robert J. Trenschel, President and CEO. “While the world quarantined at home, you selflessly cared for our neighbors, family, friends and colleagues,” he added. “We are a team forever connected through a life-changing journey of resilience and commitment to our community.”

The memorial features an internally lit art structure, surrounded by seating and serene desert landscaping. It holds more than 800 laser-cut stars, casting twinkling stars on the ground at night. Each star represents a life lost to COVID-19, a nod to the temporary memorial star wall created in 2020 by YRMC’s ICU staff. Two ICU employees – themselves survivors of lengthy COVID-19 hospital stays – performed the unveiling of the memorial’s plaque.

Alfredo Gonzalez, RN, addressed the audience while reflecting on his experience of becoming a COVID patient and fighting the virus in the same ICU where he had cared for so many. “As a patient, I personally give thanks for the compassion my workmates had toward me as they took care of me.” Gonzalez remembers leaving the hospital after his hard-fought COVID-19 battle. “I was happy to go home. And, I was eager to come back and help out.”

Funded by the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center, this permanent memorial sits near the entrance of the YRMC hospital campus. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the state of Arizona.

The public is welcome to visit the monument, offering a gentle place to remember family and friends impacted by the pandemic. The illuminated experience is most touching just after sunset.