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Sacramento's 1982 'New Year baby' now an ICU doctor at Sutter Health

She was born on January 1, 1982 shortly after midnight. Now, Dr. Vanessa Walker is an ICU doctor at Sutter Health on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The year 2020 has been a tough one, but through it all, the key is to hang on to hope. That's the message from Sacramento's New Year's baby of 1982!

And 39 years later she's ringing in 2021 as an intensive care unit (ICU) doctor on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

A lot has changed since 1982 when Sacramento welcomed New Year Baby Vanessa Patterson. But one thing remained certain: taxes.

"We just kept getting closer to midnight, and I kept thinking, well we're going to lose our tax deduction,” joked Vanessa’s mom, Mimi Patterson, during an interview with ABC10 in 1982. “Never dreaming she was born at 12:20 a.m. that she'd be the first baby in town! I was really surprised."

Vanessa’s mother Mimi and her father Ron worked together at Kaiser Permanente on Morse Avenue. When she was born, ABC10 interviewed them.

She now goes by Dr. Vanessa Walker. She's an ICU doctor at Sutter Health on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I was born to be a pulmonary critical care doctor," Dr. Walker told ABC10.

Mimi was also an ICU nurse, and Ron still works as a respiratory therapist. Though 2020 has delivered unparalleled challenges, Dr. Walker said there's much to be grateful for.

"I get to ring in the New Year! I'm here. I'm alive. I'm healthy," Dr. Walker said.

This year she'll spend her birthday working15-hour shifts in the ICU, but she’s choosing to reflect on the moments of good from 2020. She said this year was about learning.

"Being able to be on the cutting edge of treating a new disease that nobody knew about," she said.

And it was a year of triumphs.

"Seeing all the things we've been able to do as a society, coming together in science has been amazing. And we're going to continue to do amazing things as a country as a society," Dr. Walker said.

Though the pandemic will continue to throw obstacles in 2021, Dr. Walker said her antidote is hope and gratitude. For her that's being able to practice her labor of love at home.

"I'm here in Sacramento – the place where I was born [and] raised. I’m so happy to be caring for my community," she said.

Continue the conversation with Van on Facebook.

Read more from ABC10

WATCH ALSO: 2021 New Laws | Here is what's new in paid family leave and property taxes

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