From the many stories that friends, family and co-workers would share about Sylvia Cisneros, a common theme would emerge. Above all else, Cisneros was a woman dedicated to her family, her faith and her career.
Described by many as calm and reserved, Cisneros had worked as a full-time nurse with both Pioneers Memorial Hospital and El Centro Regional Medical Center prior to her death Tuesday.
And as the crowds would attest during candlelight vigils held in her memory at both Pioneers and ECRMC on Wednesday night, there seemed to be no limit to her dedication.
“She was a very important person in the community,” said co-worker and PMH registered nurse Nicole Castañeda. “She was very deserving of being honored.”
During the PMH vigil, director of emergency services Gerardo Ibarra would highlight the level of Cisnero’s devotion. After the Calexico hospital where Cisneros had previously worked had declared bankruptcy, she was one of a very few who continued to work at the site. She would remain there for about a year, working for free, Ibarra said, noting her numerous virtues.
“Men should look up to her,” Ibarra said.
A renowned health advocate, a small group of ECRMC co-workers would gently laugh during their vigil as they recalled the sights and smells of her lunchtime habits.
“That’s one thing I’ll always remember about her,” said Susan Locher, an ECRMC registration clerk.
Despite her calm and collected demeanor, Cisneros nevertheless had a profound impact on those she came in contact with.
She performed tasks in the emergency room that weren’t normally seen in the ER, said ER technician Paul Nilson.
“She did more for the patients than any other nurse I know,” Nilson said.
Salvador Nava had initially worked under her as an aide before eventually becoming her supervisor at ECRMC. Yet even in his new position he found himself relying on her expertise.
“She was an incredible teacher and inspiration,” Nava, a clinical manger-registered nurse, said. “I looked to her for guidance.”
A deeply religious person, Cisneros could often be seen walking or riding her bicycle to and from her Calexico home to work in Brawley and El Centro. She would use such moments to refine her spiritual bearings, many said.
Ana Beltran had once lived next door to Cisneros in Calexico. A registered nurse too, the pair would carpool to work on days that their schedules matched. Yet it wasn’t uncommon for Cisneros to decline a ride and instead walk or bike to work.
“Especially when it was a beautiful day,” Beltran said, “she preferred walking. I’ve met very few people with her qualities.”
The demands of the job were such that a strong bond among co-workers would eventually develop, PMH’s Castañeda said.
That “team” feeling was what allowed a patient to receive the best care possible, she said.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but we are a family,” she said. “It’s a very spiritual dynamic.”
About 100 people gathered in a large circle near the emergency room entrance at ECRMC for the vigil. A priest was also on hand to perform a small memorial service in Cisneros’ honor.
At the close of the service, the priest had asked the crowd to keep her 31-year-old son Jose Antonio Cisneros, who stands accused of her killing, in their prayers as well.
“Pray for him who needs God’s help and will need forgiveness,” the priest said.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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