La Jolla fundraiser seeks to buy thank-you gifts for UCSD Health ICU nurses

This GoFundMe page is dedicated to fundraising to thank UCSD Health intensive care unit nurses and respiratory therapists.
This GoFundMe page is dedicated to fundraising to thank UC San Diego Health intensive care unit nurses and respiratory therapists.

To help boost morale of UC San Diego Health’s intensive care unit nurses and respiratory therapists, a La Jolla family has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to provide meals and gifts.

The fundraiser is seeking just under $400 by the first week of February to provide two days’ worth of meals and small gift bags, flowers and cookies from a local bakery as a token of thanks.

The fundraiser, created by Stephanie O’Brien, can be found at by searching for “Thank Your UCSD ICU Staff Fund.”

O’Brien said her husband is a critical-care physician at UCSD Health’s Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla and that he noticed spirits have been down in recent months.

“The work of nurses and respiratory therapists has changed completely since COVID-19 hit; they are working more hours and it has been incredibly difficult for them,” O’Brien said. “They are putting their families and themselves at risk. ... In the last month, it has been the worst since the pandemic [began]. ... Early on, businesses would give them gifts and dinners and they would get recognized. Now businesses are stretched so thin and aren’t doing that, so morale is low.

“My husband mentioned that he wished the community could send in some little gifts, as they did in April through June, to lift the spirits of the staff.”

O’Brien wanted the gifts to come from the community to avoid putting additional strain on businesses that are struggling to stay open. Should the fundraiser reach its $2,400 overall goal (it had raised $2,035 as of Jan. 25), O’Brien will work to arrange delivery of dinners to Jacobs Medical Center on two separate nights and gift bags, cookies and flowers on a third day.

“The idea is to get a gift of thanks to every nurse, so we’re delivering on days when different nurses are on duty so everyone gets at least one gift,” she said. O’Brien said she is aiming to start the deliveries the second week of February.

Additionally, Girl Scouts in Troops 4354 (including seventh-graders from Muirlands Middle School) and 4766 (including fourth-graders from Bird Rock Elementary School) are making thank-you cards to accompany each delivery.

“One troop has already written 20 cards, and other kids in the community have said they want to write thank-you cards and posters, too,” O’Brien said. “When I drop off the meals or gifts, we’re going to deliver some cards so they can be posted in the nurses station so they can read them.”

She said UCSD Health also is accepting donations of new items such as magazines, sudoku books, crosswords and craft supplies for COVID-19 patients.

To coordinate a donation, email UC San Diego Health’s volunteer services at or call (619) 543-6370. ◆