Columbus, OH,
14:00 PM

ABC6: Ohio University Student's Health Challenge Catches Attention of OhioHealth Leader

22 year-old Samantha Cercena was on her way.  Wrapping up her final clinical step, preparing to join the OhioHealth immersion program, she tested positive for COVID-19.  Then, her symptoms got much worse, changing her roadmap to a career in healthcare.

After months of testing she was diagnosed with Post-COVID Gastroparesis. 

Soon, she will be going to the Cleveland Clinic for surgery.  It will be an ileostomy, that’s where doctors will create an opening in her abdomen.

“About 12 weeks to 16 weeks after that, they reverse the ileostomy and remove the colon and attach the small intestines to the rectum,” Cercena said. “The hope is that, with this surgery and all the other medications I am on, I will be steady on my feet by the end of the year and ready to get back into it and finish this last class.”

Her story, first on ABC6, caught plenty of attention, including that from OhioHealth.

“Her story is just so emotional and everything that she has been through, from COVID to post-COVID, but her resiliency really stands out,” said Louis Tejada to ABC6.

Tejada is the Critical Care Fellowship Manager at OhioHealth. 

“I wanted to tell her, we are here for you, I read your story, I was very moved by it, and I want to help you pursue your dreams,” Tejada said to ABC6.

He reached out through email, and Samantha saw the subject line that caught her eye instantly.

“I was actually just laying in bed with my dogs,” Cercena said laughing to ABC6. “The subject said, ‘Advanced Care Fellowship.’ So of course, I opened it.”

In that email, Tejada told Samantha that they would hold a spot for her in its immersion program when she was ready.

“That has been my dream since I first decided I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to work emergency, especially at a hospital like Riverside or Grant,” Cercena said to ABC6.

“I was supposed to be a nurse in the ER helping people. I wanted to find a way to help people with my situation. Being able to find one and having it make such an impact all over the place has been huge.”

To see the story from ABC6, click here.