Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff members at CalVet’s eight Veterans Homes of California have consistently gone beyond the call of duty to care for our veterans and their spouses. They are a huge part of CalVet’s success minimizing the spread of the virus at our Homes. Therefore, it is my honor and privilege to introduce “Heroes in Our Homes,” a series that will highlight some of these heroes and the extraordinary things they have done for our veterans.

Vito Imbasciani MD, Secretary, California Department of Veterans Affairs


When a patient stopped breathing on the afternoon of December 18, 2020, four nurses at the Veterans Homes of California-West Los Angeles, sprang into action.

Home heroes; Sally Erney, Lee Joung, Sojung Jung and Meena Yoo.

It wasn’t just any patient, however. This “Code Blue” occurred in the “Red Zone,” an area of the Home’s Skilled Nursing Facility that adapted to handle patients with coronavirus COVID-19. And it happened just five days after the nation’s first vaccination to a front-line responder was given to a nurse at a hospital in New York. Thus, none of the four nurses at the West LA Home – Lee Joung, Sally Erney, Meena Yoo and Sojung Jung – had yet received their first round, let alone both doses.

It didn’t matter. Protected by PPE and the Home’s practices and protocols, they rushed in to perform CPR on the patient despite the risks to their own health, wellbeing and their families’ as well. Other staffers later joined them in what became, sadly, an unsuccessful response.

In the aftermath, Erney and Lee found themselves needing to protect their own families from the possible spread by quarantining for 14 days in a hotel. They left only to go to work at the Veterans Home, and returned to the hotel each night. For Lee, it was the first time she had been away from either of her two young children for more than a night, and at Christmastime at that.


“Thank you to all the other departments and people for a quick response after (the) announced Code Blue, even if the Code Blue (was) in the Red Zone (COVID unit).”

Sojong Lee, SRN II

“It was exciting to have the teamwork of other staff to begin CPR and without any hesitation with them. That is why working here is so rewarding, teamwork towards the same goal.”

Sally Erney, SRN II

“I remembered that it was challenging day for everyone because we just opened red zone on that day and it was a little chaos with staffing.  “(Staff members) who were there did volunteer to work in red-zone without hesitation.  All of them acted on it right away as team without any hesitation.”

Sojung Jung, SRN I


“These four staff members are a great example of the leadership and integrity that makes the West LA workforce so strong. The fast actions of our nurses in adversity was just business as usual for them because they are so great at their jobs.”

Julian Manalo 

COMING NEXT TUESDAY: Breaking the cycle of pandemic boredom in Ventura.

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