ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – He’s a father on the front lines. A UNMH nurse has been fighting the virus since the beginning and it’s forced him to change the way he interacts with his kids.

Mario Valencia is a nurse supervisor at UNMH, it’s a job he takes seriously. He says they’ve been swamped taking care of COVID-19 patients.

“It’s been stressful, stressful environment. Patients are getting very ill, where they have to go to the ICU and we’re just kind of on our toes,” said Valencia.

Valencia loves helping people, and he loves his job, but there’s no job he loves more than being a dad. He has three kids. “We have a little kiddie pool, we fill that up and they get in there. Sometimes I join them, it’s small, they can’t swim, but they love it. They just love getting wet,” said Valencia.

The past few months he’s been taking extra steps to keep his family safe from the virus. “Wearing PPE, the stress of did I wear it properly, did I miss a step wiping down my belongings,” said Valencia.

When he gets home he changes clothes in their garage, sanitizes his belongings a second time, and takes a shower, all before saying to his kids. “It’s hard before they would just run up to me and I’d give them a hug,” said Valencia.

Valencia says it’s been tough, but he’s using it as a teaching tool. “They’re aware when they wash their hands I tell them, you’re killing the virus right now, you gotta make those bubbles,” he said. He also says he couldn’t do it all by himself. “My wife has been a big support,” he said.

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