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16-year-old Denver7 Everyday Hero eases work for hospital and nursing staff facing burnout

Sajja was one of the first volunteers back during pandemic
Posted at 3:37 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 11:13:48-05

DENVER — The hospital is not where you'd willingly find most 16-year-olds, but Sreehitha Sajja is not most 16-year-olds.

"I’ve just loved being able to learn so much," Sajja said.

She is one of the teen leaders at Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center. It's a first step of sorts to fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"Science has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was little, it was just something I knew, I’m gonna be a doctor," Sajja said.

Not even the pandemic could get in the way of that. Sajja was one of the first volunteers back after COVID-19 forced the hospital to suspend its volunteer program for more than a year.

"So no volunteers, no caregivers, that put us in a predicament," said Miranda Ayala, director of the blood cancer unit at Presbyterian St. Lukes. "We become everything to our patients, which we love, but we also need help to do the small tasks, like laundry or stocking. Those are the type of things that go to the wayside if we don’t have enough help."

That's what makes volunteers like Sajja so vital. Not only does she tend to patients, she's also backup to a nursing staff already facing long hours and burnout.

"Even if it’s just the smallest things like stocking, I sometimes make like lab bags, so when they get a new patient or they need to draw blood, they can just grab one and go," Sajja said.

"She has been such a blessing to us. We have had some challenges, and I think her coming in, she has been such a help, and we just adore her and are so appreciative of her," Ayala said.

In just five months, Sajja has donated more than 267 hours of her time to the hospital. She'll tell you this experience has been worth every minute.

"It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve just gotta love it," she said.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.