PSRW 2020: Felicia Mora, DHS

Public Service Recognition Week: Felicia Mora, RN at Colorado Mental Health Hospital at Pueblo

For more than 18 years, Felicia Mora has been supporting the health and wellbeing of clients at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP). As a registered nurse, she works in a medium to minimum security forensic male unit, where she helps her clients with Activities of Daily Living (ADL).

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, her work puts her on the frontlines of the defense against the coronavirus in Colorado. With residential facilities becoming hotspots of the virus, places like state hospitals are adapting to what life in a new reality means for their staff and patients. 

When we work with our clients, we help them understand why they are in the state hospital, what their medication is for, the court process and their legal case, and many other things that most of us never have to think about,” Felicia said. “Now with the coronavirus pandemic, we also have to provide support in ways we’ve never had to before. We have to reassure our patients and let them know that everything is under control. We have to implement social distancing in group activities like eating or going outside, which disrupts their daily routine. We’ve done a really great job on our unit in adjusting to these practices and we are all taking precautions to ensure our patients don’t get exposed to the virus.”

As coronavirus spreads across our state, workers in 24/7 facilities are becoming the first line of defense, protecting some of the most vulnerable populations in Colorado. For instance, workers are now wearing masks for their 12-hour shifts, checking everyone’s temperature before entering CMHIP, and not allowing visitors to campus. 

“We hope and pray that when we go to work we don’t bring the virus in with us. And that we don’t bring it back home with us, either,” Felicia said. 

With two teenagers at home, another son in the military, and her father who is more at risk of infection, Felicia takes special precautions to ensure she is safe when returning home to her family. 

“I’m doing everything in my power to make sure I don’t bring the virus home to my kids. I have an area in my garage where I have a laundry basket for when I get home,” she said. “As soon as I walk in I take off my belongings in the garage, I take the towel out of my car that I use to line my seat, and I go straight into the shower. I have a rule I made for myself where nothing I have on can come into the house. I also am really careful to clean off my steering wheel, seat belt, and pedals — anything I touch, really — with a disinfecting cloth.”

Despite the increased hardships she’s facing at work and at home, Felicia’s dedication to her clients, her coworkers, and her community is steadfast. 

“For so long, mental health had a really negative stigma around it, but since people are talking about it more these days it’s not as bad anymore, and that’s great for patients and people like me who provide care for them,” Felicia said. “Seeing our patients who were not stable, because they came from an abusive situation or were homeless, and seeing them transform and trust us to take care of them, it’s incredible. It’s touching to hear someone say ‘you’re a good nurse, i can depend on you.’”

Felicia’s dedication runs in her blood. Both of her grandmothers and her aunt worked for the state hospital in various roles. 

“I’m a third generation CMHIP employee, so I understand how vital the work we do is,” Felicia said. “I’m also so grateful for the many wonderful people who work at CMHIP. This is hard work and when you work with the populations we serve, you have to depend on each other through tough times. I have created long lasting bonds with my coworkers, some of whom I consider family. This bond between us is what makes my job so rewarding.”