LOCAL NEWS

Medical interpreter works with same unit that saved him some 30 years ago

Sep 22, 2023, 8:13 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm

PROVO — No one plans to start life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and even more so when English is not their native language.  

That’s the situation Martin Fernandez found himself in. 

Now, nearly three decades later, he’s back at the NICU.    

Fernandez and his new bride Gabriela had moved from Argentina to Provo for college when they soon learned they were expecting. 

“When we found out my wife was pregnant, she started getting sick,” Fernandez said.  

All of the local OBGYNs were booked for months, so Fernandez found a doctor in Delta who could see his wife that very day.  

Their doctor discovered high blood pressure, making the pregnancy difficult. Fernandez and his wife were given an ultimatum: save their baby or save Gabriela.  

At 31 weeks, Gabriela had a C-Section, and their newborn needed intensive care. 

Baby Thomas was life-flighted to Provo, while Gabriela recovered in Delta – Fernandez drove the nearly 100 miles between the two almost every day for a month.  

There were no phone lines and Fernandez couldn’t speak English fluently, so doctors found a way to share Thomas’s progress: using polaroids. 

Baby Tomas photo

Doctors sent this photo to Fernandez so he knew Thomas no longer needed a feeding tube. (Martin Fernandez)

“These beautiful doctors, nurses, and medical assistants kept sending us Polaroids,” Fernandez said. “That was the way to communicate baby’s improvements.” 

Wendy Robinson was one of those nurses.  

“We would try to capture good things like when we take the breathing tube out,” Robinson said. “Things like that and tried to give baby extra love and attention.” 

Robinson has been a NICU nurse for most of her nearly three decades of work.  

When she first started, there were no translators or interpreters.  

“It’s hard. Sometimes all you can do is cry with people and smile at them,” said Robinson. “You motion and try to share the things are good, and that it’s okay to touch a baby and connect with them.”  

For Fernandez, it was overwhelming becoming a new father, trying to take care of Gabriela and Thomas while not fully understanding what doctors were telling him.  

“We tried to tell nurses and Doctor our thoughts, but we were not able to find the proper words,” Fernandez said. “So many times, we didn’t tell them what we thought or what we want because of a barrier in the language.” 

That was 27 years ago, and now Fernandez finds himself back in the NICU – this time, so he can help.  

“My experience here motivated me,” said Fernandez.  

Following his family’s recovery, Fernandez studied to become a medical interpreter and translator. 

In November of 2022, Fernandez was hired by Intermountain Health and assigned a shift at the NICU in Provo.  

“When I first saw Wendy, I asked her, were you here in April 1996?” said Fernandez.  

Robinson confirmed that she was not only the nurse who took polaroid updates for Fernadez’s son, she was one of the nurses who saved his life.  

“It’s kind of miracle, a full circle story being closed,” said Fernandez.  

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 19: Passengers look at a  flight information board showing multiple delays an...

Associated Press

A massive tech outage is causing worldwide disruptions. Here’s what we know

Much of the world faced online disarray Friday as a widespread technology outage affected companies and services across industries.

28 minutes ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah athlete hoping for Paralympic comeback at Team USA trials

A Paralympian from Utah dreams of representing the United States in Paris, and he’ll find out this weekend if he makes the cut for Team USA.

1 hour ago

(Karah Brackin, KSL TV)...

Josh Ellis

Dozens of SLC flights canceled, delayed as tech outage disrupts global travel

A global technology outage impacted flights at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday.

3 hours ago

Travelers wait in Terminal 1 for check-in at Hamburg Airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Friday July 19, ...

Charlotte Graham-McLay, Elaine Kurtenbach and David McHugh

Widespread global tech outage disrupts flights, banks, hospitals and media outlets

A global technology outage grounded flights, knocked banks and hospital systems offline and media outlets off air in a massive disruption that affected companies and services around the world and highlighted dependence on software from a handful of providers.

7 hours ago

Credit card companies that value their customers may feel more inclined to wave fees or reduce rate...

Matt Gephardt

Lowering your credit card interest to save hundreds can be as easy as picking up the phone

If you need to borrow money for a home, a car, or even just groceries, the odds seem stacked against you. But lowering your credit card interest may be as easy as picking up the phone.

13 hours ago

Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox ride in a cattle drive through downtown Salt Lake City to ...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

‘We need more community’: Why Cox says this Pioneer Day can be unifying for Utahns

It seemed that everyone in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday morning wanted to take a picture or grab a video of the moment as Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox rode through city streets, leading a Texas longhorn cattle herd behind them. Cox hopes this holiday can be a unifying one.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Medical interpreter works with same unit that saved him some 30 years ago