FeaturesG&G 2020

Gayest & Greatest 2020: Health and Beauty Part II

Nurse Kandice Webber has worked tirelessly to heal COVID-19 patients.

Kandice Webber is this year’s Favorite Female Nurse (courtesy photo).

There has always been a consensus about how courageous nurses are. Throw a pandemic into the equation, and suddenly the world comes to a halt as we all watch footage of these heroes on the front lines of a global health crisis. Nurses like Kandice Webber, this year’s Favorite Female Nurse, are now sacrificing more than they ever imagined when they took the Hippocratic Oath.

“I have been a nurse for almost 20 years. I’ve never seen a disease like COVID,” Webber says. “It is brutal and unrelenting. It is unpredictable, and it kills.” This sentiment is telling, given that Webber is a critical-care nurse specializing in medical intensive care. “The patients I care for have a multitude of disease processes that culminate in life-threatening illnesses.”

Webber understands that her choice to become a nurse comes with a particular amount of emotional challenges and sacrifices. “I’ve cared for nurses who contracted COVID [while] working in the same hospital I work in, and I have had to watch some of them die,” the selfless medical professional says. “I know that I could be one of those frontline healthcare workers who dies caring for strangers. That is a sobering feeling.”

The toll that the pandemic has had on nurses like Webber is clear, both professionally and personally. “I am separated from my family because of the dangers of spreading this virus to them. I miss my wife and children,” she says. “My youngest child is only 18 months old. I’ve been away from her for a third of her life.”

Through technology, she is able to keep in touch with them. “My wife sends me videos and pictures every day. We FaceTime a lot. One of my greatest fears was that my baby wouldn’t feel a bond between us because I’ve been away from her for so long.”

The lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Houston recognizes how important it is to be an out nurse. “Representation matters. Most people who die of COVID die alone. Their families can’t be with them, and the last thing they need is to have some nurse or doctor [prohibit an LGBTQ partner from contacting them via] calls or video chats.”

Webber remembers a gay patient who was dying of the disease, and his partner kept trying to get information about his prognosis, to no avail. “The doctors kept blowing him off,” she recalls. She had to fight for his partner and explain that he has loved the patient for almost 30 years. “I reminded them that we provide care. We don’t pass judgment about our patients’ families or who they share love with.”

Webber took the initiative and contacted the patient’s partner. “I let him use my phone to FaceTime. He died three days after that call. I sat in his room and held his hand as he transitioned, and then I called his partner to let him know that he had passed, but he wasn’t alone. I was there with him. I will never forget them.”

Having worked in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas during the pandemic, this brave and compassionate nurse continues to face danger and uncertainty every day while providing top-notch care to her patients, all while maintaining a semblance of family life when she isn’t in her surgical scrubs. “I’m incredibly grateful for my wife, because she prioritizes my communication with our little one. Those of us on the front lines are making unbelievable sacrifices.”

For more information on Black Lives Matter Houston, visit blmhouston.com.

Favorite Female Nurse

Kandice Webber

Favorite Male Nurse

Derek Smith
Finalists: Christopher Cox, Akil Jones, AJ Sarabia 

Best Male Psychiatrist

Daniel Garza
Finalist: Barry Gritz, Chad Lemaire, Jim Simon, Pedro Bustamante

Best Male Mental-Health Therapist

Ty David Lerman (tie), Robert Snellgrove (tie)
Finalist: Shane Hennesey, Jeffrey Myles, Ryan Viviano

Best Female Mental-Health Therapist

Denise O’Doherty
Finalists: Tara Bates, Jessica Eisaman, Tierra Ortiz-Rodriguez, Betsy Vasquez

Best Virtual Personal Training Sessions

Tropa Z (Corrie Domingo)
Finalist: Billy Morquecho

Best Gym/Place to Work Out

Body Positive at Legacy Community Health
Finalists: Club Houston, LA Fitness, Skyline CrossFit

Best Community Health-Services Provider

Legacy Community Health 
Finalists: Avenue 360 Health & Wellness, St. Hope Foundation

Best Men’s Health Clinic

Lago Mar Medical Clinic

Best Virtual Healthcare Appointments

Crofoot MD
Finalist: Legacy Community Health Care

Best Emergency OR Urgent Care Center

SignatureCare Emergency Center
Finalist: Elite Care 24-Hour Emergency

Best Pharmacy

Legacy Pharmacy (tie), Avita Pharmacy (tie)
Finalists: Walgreens Pharmacy at Crofoot Medical, Walgreens

Best COVID-19 Testing Site

Crofoot MD
Finalists: City of Houston, Legacy Community Health Care, SignatureCare Emergency Center

Best Rapid COVID-19 Testing Site

SignatureCare Emergency Center

Best Female Hair Stylist

Celina Gonzalez
Finalists: Lana Blake, Yesenia Garcia, Patty Gooch

Best Male Hair Stylist

Christopher Michael Stribling
Finalists: Brian Mejia, Reza Nouri, Joel Quinones, Anthony Skoogie

Best Tattoo Parlor

Electric Chair
Finalists: Corazones Tattoo, Red Eye Gallery

This article appears in the October 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Zach McKenzie

Zachary McKenzie is a marketing professional and freelance writer in Houston, TX. He received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2014 and has lived in Houston since. Zachary is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and enjoys spending his free time with friends, exploring the richness and diversity of Houston.
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