National Nurses Month 2022: 10 HCA Healthcare nurses share their ‘why’
Everyone has a ‘why’. It’s the purpose that drives every one of us. People are driven to pursue a career in healthcare because they care about people. Every day, across HCA Healthcare’s 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, more than 93,000 nurses are with patients and their families during some of their most important and vulnerable moments in their life. Many nurses say they didn’t choose their career as much as it chose them. For them, nursing is a calling.
In honor of National Nurses Month 2022, we caught up with 10 HCA Healthcare nurses to hear why they’re proud to serve our patients.
Texas nurse’s dedication follows vow to grandfather
Caring like family is something HCA Healthcare nurse Vanessa Quintanilla promised to practice before joining the HCA Houston Healthcare as an immediate care unit (IMCU) nurse. It was something she promised her grandfather.
“I got into nursing because my grandfather was in and out of hospitals for ten years with kidney disease, and I was really inspired by how the nurses treated him so well,” said Vanessa. Her grandfather, Everado Garza, passed during her first semester of nursing school, but not before Vanessa vowed that she “would be a kind nurse and honor him.”
The kindness Vanessa portrays in her role serving patients at HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, she was named the hospital’s ‘Nurse of the Year’. She has also been awarded a quarterly DAISY Award, which rewards and celebrates the extraordinary, compassionate and skillful care given by nurses every day.
Vanessa started her career in nursing about six months before the hospital saw its first COVID-19 patient. During this unprecedented time, she knew it was important to stay healthy for her family and focus on being there for her patients.
“Mentally, it was hard,” said Vanessa. “We were navigating a new disease and trying to figure out how to help families who knew nothing about the disease, and they couldn’t come visit. I did a lot of FaceTiming for them and said I would hold the patients’ hands for them.”
Alaska nurse inspired by pediatric oncology patient and mother’s legacy
When HCA Healthcare emergency room (ER) nurse Matt Paveglio got behind a sled of dogs for The Iditarod, he had a few very special people watching over him – including his mother who recently lost a battle with cancer and a resilient pediatric patient who was diagnosed with the same disease.
“There were a lot of guardian angels. There was a lot of strength that I found in the people that had either been there to support me or battled cancer,” Matt said.
After experiencing the challenges of being on the front line of the pandemic inside Alaska Regional Hospital’s ER, Matt says being able to get outdoors and connect with nature has been good for the soul. “Nothing is harder in my opinion than nursing in a global pandemic. I realize more now that we need to make the most of our moments and the Iditarod is the opportunity for me to live that spirit,” Matt said. “Mushing makes me feel more alive than ever!”
He’s not the only one who’s benefitted from the Iditarod. When 10-year-old patient, Lauren, embarked on a race against ovarian cancer, she met Matt at Alaska Regional Hospital. After Matt found out that Lauren was autistic, he used conversations about dogs and sled racing to keep her calm – especially when he placed an IV and prepared Lauren to receive X-rays and a CT scan.
His heart quickly attached to Lauren’s family as he had a daughter the same age. Matt taught Lauren about the wild courage and teamwork of his huskies and showed her videos of their frigid adventures. He even went the extra mile to gather 50 donated stuffed huskies from all over the United States so that Lauren could have her very own dog sled team. “Matt told her, this is your fight and you have to keep fighting,” recalled Lauren’s mother, Erica.
Just as Matt had cheered Lauren on during her cancer journey, she jumped at the chance to return the favor. When the Iditarod kicked off in early March 2022, Lauren surprised Matt at the ceremonial race start with two of those husky stuffed animals to take with him on the trail.
Matt also had a guardian angel cheering him on. In August 2021, Matt’s mother, Dee, passed away after a battle with ovarian cancer. She, too, was a registered nurse who dedicated her life to healing others. Matt named his 2022 Iditarod team “DEEtermined” after his mom and poured everything into the nearly 1,000-mile grueling race.
While thoughts of his mother comforted him throughout the race, so did the support he received from Lauren’s family.
“It was an honor to give back. To be that person that he was for us,” Lauren’s mother added.
Former refugees provide expert cardiac care to patients
Jasmina and Josip Katinic
Once European refugees, Jasmina and Josip Katinic now provide expert cardiac care to HCA Florida Healthcare patients. Jasmina, who holds a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree, is the director of the Structural Heart Program for HCA Healthcare’s West Florida Division. Her husband, Josip, also earned a DNP and serves our patients at HCA Florida Heart Institute’s Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing Clinic.
High school sweethearts in Yugoslavia, the couple was torn apart by the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. Jasmina moved to a safer part of the country while Josip stayed behind in their hometown to fight in the army. The two were able to find each other in Germany later and get married. They then set their sights on a life in America where they could positively impact the lives of others.
“We both dreamed of pursuing higher education, but that wasn’t going to happen in Yugoslavia. Plus, we had no homes left to go back to,” said Josip. “A lot of our family and friends were going to the USA, so we went to the U.S. embassy in Frankfurt to ask if it would be possible for us to go to America, get visas, attend school, and work.”
The answer, to their delight, was yes. In 1998, Catholic Charities arranged for the couple to fly from Germany to Davenport, Iowa, to begin their new lives. Fifteen days after arriving in Iowa, the couple called a taxi and asked the driver, in their limited English, if he would drive them to the university. There they met with an advisor who registered them for English as a Second Language class.
The Katinics both knew they wanted to pursue healthcare professions and began looking into nursing. “We soon realized how much we liked it, and eventually, we both fell in love with cardiology,” said Josip. “We continued to pursue cardiac care, and that led us to where we are now – both working in cardiac specialties at HCA Florida Healthcare.”
“So many of our accomplishments, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without all of the people we’ve met along the way who wanted to help us and mentor us, sharing their knowledge,” said Jasmina. “We have really experienced the ‘care like family’ value throughout our careers, so HCA Healthcare’s mission really spoke to us. We wouldn’t be here today without the people who embodied this philosophy, so we’ve adopted it as our own mantra and personal mission, as well.”
Today, the couple is happily settled in Tampa Bay and are parents to two sons “and two cats, who are also our babies,” Jasmina added.
Nurse leads unit through pandemic and shares her career journey
Minnie Washington arrived for her first day of work in HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe‘s cafeteria 30 years ago, she had no idea that she’d one day be a leader in the nursing field, helping to guide a team of nurses through a pandemic.
While serving on the hospital’s food and nutrition services team, Minnie was inspired by the nurses around her and worked her way through school using HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment programs. “I wanted to get a job where I could make a difference,” Minnie told Fox 26 Houston. She studied and became a certified nurse assistant (CNA), continued going to school to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) and eventually earned her registered nurse (RN) credentials. She now holds Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees, and has served as a nurse supervisor, manager and director.
Shortly after Minnie obtained her MSN, COVID-19 hit. Minnie faced new challenges daily, but her uncertainty about the pandemic quickly turned into courage as her floor was selected as the hospital’s first COVID-19 unit.
Minnie says she hopes to be a source of inspiration for those considering a career in nursing.
Kentucky nurse serves her community and country
Terri Wells, a 23-year nurse, brings incredible military training and a specialized skill set to work each day. She not only serves our patients as a certified perioperative nurse (CNOR) at HCA Healthcare’s Frankfort Regional Medical Center in Kentucky, but serves our country as a sergeant in the United States Army Reserve. Sgt. Wells started her 12-year career with the Army as a 63B, or light wheeled vehicle mechanic, and eventually was an 88M, or motor transport operator.
“When I came to Frankfort Regional Medical Center, I only had my associate’s degree in nursing for 10 years at that point,” Terri recalled. It was the encouragement of her colleagues who inspired her to earn her bachelor’s degree. “I had been working as an operating room nurse for years but it wasn’t until I came to Frankfort Regional Medical Center that any employer cared about me getting my certification. My director encouraged me to sit for the exam and HCA Healthcare paid for it, and here I am – CNOR!”
‘Care like family’ includes four-legged member for oncology nurse
When HCA Florida North Florida Hospital oncology nurse Yolanda Castillo-Baron learned that a cancer patient had to leave her dog alone while she received treatment, she made a special promise to provide faithful and forever care to the patient’s beloved canine companion, Boogie.
The patient first confided in her that she lived alone and was concerned about her dog’s care while in the hospital. Yolanda offered to help with Boogie whenever needed so that she could focus on her treatment.
When the ailing patient was later advised to consider hospice care, she understandably didn’t want to leave Boogie alone. “I let her know I would take care of Boogie, and the following day, the patient told the medical team she was ready to transition to hospice,” Yolanda added.
Thanks to Yolanda, Boogie was by his owner’s side, providing comfort in her final days. Yolanda also comforted the patient, assuring her that everything would be okay and that she would take good care of Boogie. Shortly after Yolanda told her patient that Boogie would be fine, the patient passed away.
Boogie is now an integral part of Yolanda’s family, enjoying long walks and treats.
Yolanda was recently awarded her hospital’s DAISY Award, recognizing her for compassionate, patient-centered care.
Join our HCA Healthcare nursing team. Whether you are looking for your start in nursing or searching for a new challenge, we have something for you. Visit HCA Healthcare Careers.
Nurse receives DAISY Award from HCA Healthcare Division President
“Carol is what all caregivers should aspire to be.” Those were just a few of the many glowing words used in a DAISY Award nomination letter for HCA Healthcare nurse Carol Monaghan.
Carol, a veteran nurse of 39 years, was surprised with her DAISY Award in the weeks leading up to National Nurses Week 2022 at Medical City Heart Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Among those taking part in the celebration was a former cardiovascular intensive care unit (CICU) patient – HCA Healthcare MidAmerica Division President, Mel Lagarde.
During Mel’s stint in the hospital, she cared for him with excellence, compassion, and teamwork. Mel, a New Orleans native, considered it an honor to return to Texas to recognize Carol’s extraordinary care as a DAISY nurse.
“I had the privilege of remembering and being a patient of Carol’s,” Mel said during the ceremony. “You were just so kind and it means so much to me.”
Utah nurse celebrates 25 years in her first home away from home
Salt Lake City, Utah
A team and a family. It was a dream-making combination for HCA Healthcare nurse Juanita Jordan, who cares for patients in the progressive care unit (PCU) at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
When Juanita said ‘goodbye’ to her home country of Guyana in the early ‘90s, she and her husband moved to Utah. A few years later, she began her career at St. Mark’s Hospital as a Certified Nursing Aid (CNA) where the nurses and leaders took her in under their wing, helped her grow and always looked out for her well-being.
Thanks to the encouragement of colleagues, Juanita steadily developed in skill, experience and education. “In fact, one very kind and encouraging manager told me I should really go to nursing school. She said that someday I could run the PCU,” Juanita said with a grin. With the support of her family and colleagues, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2020 from the University of Utah. “Interestingly, I don’t run the unit now, but I am one of the clinical nurse coordinators. I’m also a charge nurse and the most senior nurse in the PCU during the day shift.”
During her time at the hospital, Juanita has cultivated close relationships with the PCU team and says they support one another and lift each other up during difficult times.
“I really love the people I work with. Most of the nurses I started working with 25 years ago still work on the unit. We’ve been together for a long time,” Juanita said. “In fact, those nurses did something unique for me. Back in 2003, they came together and pooled money and helped me become a United States citizen. Those are the people who have coached me and helped me become who I am today.”
Mother, son duo serve patients together in Florida
Yovana Valentin and Ricky de Jesus
Making a difference and serving others is a family affair for an HCA Florida Healthcare mother-son duo in Aventura, Florida.
HCA Healthcare nurse Yovana Valentin cares for patients at HCA Florida Aventura Hospital. Her son, Ricky de Jesus, works as a patient care technician (PCT) at the same hospital while also enrolled at Galen College of Nursing where he is studying to become a nurse. Together, they share a passion for continued learning and a calling to help others.
Nursing is Yovana’s second career. After earning a bachelor’s degree, she worked as a marketing coordinator at an international real estate company. “I was happy with my job, but felt that I wasn’t making the emotional connections with people that are so important to me,” said Yovana. After speaking with her family, she decided to attend nursing school in Puerto Rico. Yovana graduated in two and a half years and returned to Miami to pass her National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Ricky has known he wanted to work in healthcare since he was a child. “I always felt the desire to help people, and when I was in middle school my dad would bring me to the hospital, where I would visit the cardiovascular intensive care unit (ICU) and the Cath lab,” Ricky recalled. “Those experiences taught me how broad the title of nurse is. I began learning first-hand what nurses do and how many different areas of nursing there are.”
In October 2021, Ricky enrolled in classes at Galen College of Nursing – Miami Campus and plans to graduate with his associate degree in nursing in two years. He then plans to work in the ICU and continue his education with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.
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About HCA Healthcare
HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.
As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.