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Hometown Hero: Breona Rydholm

Published: January 6, 2021

By: Emma Widmar, Racine County Eye

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Breona Rydholm has seen first hand how impactful the COVID-19 virus has been on those diagnosed with the illness, caregivers, and healthcare workers. The CNA at Ascension All Saints, 3801 Spring Street, and St. Monica’s Senior Living Home, 3920 N Green Bay Road, isn’t backing down from the fight.

Additionally, Rydholm has the courage in her heart to share her own story of battling mental illness. She’s connecting the dots between the effects of COVID-19 and the community’s stance on mental health.

Aspiring Nurse

Breona RydholmRydholm is a nursing student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She will be among the graduating class of 2022. She’s exploring this route in the healthcare field because she knows just how personal the care is. As a nurse, she says “we know our patients. We spend the most time with them. There are so many opportunities to learn.”

Nursing school hasn’t been the only learning experience that Rydholm has been a part of. The COVID-19 pandemic has expanded Rydholm’s knowledge further than she could have imagined. Working with the elderly and patients in a Intermediate Care Unit has broadened her knowledge of this virus and healthcare.

“As a nurse, you form a bond with patients during the most vulnerable moments of their life. That feeling is just astounding” says the aspiring nurse.

Mental Health Advocate

RydholmIn a time where connecting with others is so different, this future nurse is taking extra time to focus on her own mental health and the mental wellbeing of those under her care. Prior to the pandemic, mental health advocacy has played a large role in who Rydholm is.

Rydholm has anxiety and depression. While some may see this as a fault, Rydholm uses her story as a strength in her career and personal life. Going to therapy, using medication to treat her illness, being in a psychiatric ward, and navigating her diagnosis are all pieces of her puzzle that makeup who she is.

As a healthcare worker, she never wants anyone to feel alone. She says “COVID-19 has forced us all into isolation. It has been very lonely and scary.” For those with existing mental illnesses especially, this has not been a walk in the park.

As a mental health advocate, Rydholm shares these tips and tricks to help:

  • Go for walks
  • Watch the sunset at the Reefpoint Marina
  • Listen and/or dance to music
  • Meditate for 20 minutes a day
  • Find a new hobby and explore it daily
  • Video call with friends or family
  • Check out further mental health resources by clicking here

Rydholm 3However, there have been points where Rydholm didn’t feel secure. It’s what has led her to share her story and being open about her situation. She leads with courage and offers insight by saying “When I have been at really bad points, I always wondered if I’m alone. Am the only one going through this?”

These questions led her to create a positive conversation about mental health. She knows now that life is hard. It’s okay to struggle, but she doesn’t want people to feel as alone as she did once. She wants people to know they are loved and cared for.

Rydholm continually reminds herself and others “Nothing would be the same if you did not exist.” There is hope for those struggling and it looks like her.

Vaccination Provides Hope

As a CNA, future nurse, and witness to the damage that COVID-19 causes, Ryholm is eager to help others, no matter where they are in their life. She’s a listening ear and a hand to hold. She’s a local hero who is relentlessly fighting this virus.

It may feel that if the COVID-19 pandemic may never end, but Rydholm is certain that strides forward are happening. She became one of the first healthcare workers at Ascension All Saints to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Likewise, she says “If this vaccine can give me any form of an advantage against COVID-19, then give it to me. It feels like a light in a very long period of darkness.”

When the opportunity presents itself, consider getting the vaccine. Speak with a healthcare professional first to see if the vaccine is an appropriate choice for you. Until then, continue to wear masks and social distance.

Nominate a Healthcare Hero

Healthcare workers like Breona Rydholm are heroes to the Racine community. If there is a healthcare worker who you know that has gone above and beyond, nominate them.

Click here to nominate a Healthcare Hero. Share your story on Racine County Eye and thank a hero. Check out other stories of heroism, by clicking here.

Contact Emma Widmar at ewidmar@racinecountyeye.com for more information about the series.

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