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Chula Vista Medical Center ER technician paints portraits of caregivers

By Vanessa Paz,


CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- It's hard not to stop what you're doing and admire the hallway inside Sharp Chula Vista's triage department showcasing portraits of the frontline workers within the building.

"Everyone is wearing masks. I wanted them to be recognizable even with the masks with facial features, their mannerisms, their postures," described Kezzy Olivar, the artist behind the portraits. "I wanted them [frontline workers] to be celebrated and honored for what they do because it's hard to recognize these people and see them as the humans they are as they do this tough work.”

Tough, to put it lightly, as caregivers worked tirelessly to keep patients alive in their ER at the height of the pandemic.

"It was a way for me, as an artist, to express that grief, frustration but also empathy and just a lot of care," said Olivar.

Emotions that Olivar felt too because she is also an emergency room technician at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and those individuals that she painted were her colleagues.

"I love caring for people, that's a natural thing for me. And this universe gave me the opportunity and I'm so thankful for it," Olivar said.

The opportunity to cover the walls with her art came after Olivar’s sister, who's also a medical professional but in the ICU, told her about a couple she treated who eventually died from COVID-19.

Her sister described them hand-in-hand, with their gurneys side-by-side.

"I was painting it based on her emotions and descriptions, and the colors reflect that. The light turning into the dark as in death but also a warm feeling close to your loved one."

The painting was displayed at the hospital's memorial in 2021, honoring those who passed away from the deadly disease. Olivar's drawing got attention.

"My leads heard about it, and they wanted to do something with this triage wall because it was looking bland so they approached me and said, 'Would you like to do something with this wall? And I said, 'I'd love to.’”

She felt her colleagues earned a spot on the wall.

“I thought, 'I'm going to continue the project I did to honor the staff.’ I think I made people happy to see themselves and their colleagues to be able to recognize each other, everyone with a mask and still able to recognize each other that was my favorite part," Olivar concluded.

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