Celebrating the vast diversities and heritage of HCA Healthcare’s Hispanic/Latinx colleagues

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

During National Hispanic Heritage Month – recognized from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 – HCA Healthcare is proud to celebrate the vast diversity of nationalities of our patients and colleagues within the Hispanic/Latinx community.

This year, we invited colleagues from across our organization to share their Caribbean, Central American, Mexican, South American and Spanish heritage with us. Below, our colleagues share stories about their cultural upbringing and how it shaped their lives and influenced their career journey.

Headshot of Rudy Flores
Rudy Flores, Nursing Analytics Division Director, South Atlantic Division

Rudy’s story

Rudy Flores, MPH, CPHQ, RHIT, Nursing Analytics Division Director
South Atlantic Division
Mexican Heritage

My aspiration to work in healthcare began at an early age by helping my grandmother with her medications. During summer vacation from school, she would take care of my brothers, cousins, and myself. My grandmother had multiple medical conditions and I was always there offering to help her.

I think this is a great time, not just for Hispanic/Latinx, but all cultures to be involved in healthcare since there has been so much attention on health equity and diversity.

Growing up, the medicine we would get as a child was a prayer, the phrase, ‘Sana, sana, colita de rana,’ or cleansing with an egg. The actual translation of the phrase is ‘Heal, heal, little frog’s tail,’ and the egg was used to take away the ‘Ojo’ or ‘evil eye.’ We know scientifically that these examples of healing practices do not cure illness or injury, but we find them comforting.

“When we care for our patients, we should remind ourselves that patients don’t always experience healthcare the same way and sometimes these small things, rooted in our culture, can make the experience a positive one for them.”

Rudy Flores, Nursing Analytics Division Director, South Atlantic Division
Jennifer Charles and her family smiling for picture at a baseball game
Jennifer Charles (right), human resources vice president at Parkland Medical Center, strives to empower other Latino professionals to find opportunities for their growth and development to increase representation in leadership roles.

Jennifer’s story

Jennifer Charles, Human Resources Vice President
Parkland Medical Center (Derry, New Hampshire)
Dominican Heritage

Growing up, I was given the opportunity to be exposed to the Dominican culture and the American culture. Although I was born in the United States, I am proud to say that Spanish is my first language. I lived in the Dominican Republic for my early school years and moved back to the United States, where I worked hard to learn English as a second language because my parents believed that was the key to success.

My parents came to this country in the early 70s, soon after my father graduated from nursing school. At that time, my father was the only male student in a nursing program in the Dominican Republic and the first college graduate in his family. Being exposed to both cultures and countries allowed me to put things into perspective and understand the struggles, hardships and values of a developing country. 

My goal was to make my parents proud and provide them with the sense of accomplishment they deserved. People of Hispanic/Latinx descent represent 1 in 5 workers in this country – I am part of that 1 in 5 workers. Currently holding a vice president position, I look to empower other Latino professionals to find opportunities for their growth and development to increase representation in leadership roles.

Did you know? In 2021, HCA Healthcare committed to investing $10 million over three years to expand strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). To date, our organization has announced approximately $6.75 million to multiple colleges and universities towards that commitment, including gifts to two HSIs: The University of Texas at El Paso and Florida International University.

Two brothers smiling for picture in front of staircase
John Roque (right), Chief Nursing Officer at The Medical Center of Aurora & Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, and his brother Jesse (left), Chief Nursing Officer at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center.

John’s story

John Roque, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
The Medical Center of Aurora & Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital (Aurora, Colorado)  
Puerto Rican & Mexican Heritage

My Hispanic roots have always been at the heart of what I wanted to be when I grew up. As a young man, the importance of family, tradition, and helping others were things that my mother and father had always discussed as being important. Both of my parents are hardworking and take pride in making things better for themselves and our family.

We are a tight-knit group consisting of my mother, my father, and my little brother, Jesse, who is also a CNO at HCA Healthcare’s West Hills Hospital & Medical Center in California. On many occasions, my father expressed that “we are family, and while small, family takes care of each other.” These few words meant a great deal as I entered the workforce in a nurse tech program in El Paso, Texas. This opportunity laid the foundation for me as I started my career in nursing and later on as a Chief Nursing Officer.  

“Through my 22 years at HCA Healthcare, I have encountered many patients, physicians, and colleagues whom I consider my extended family.  Much like my Hispanic heritage, I look at every interaction as an opportunity to help a “family member” who may need something from me or the healthcare system. Compassion, a good listening ear and treating others like family have taken me far.”

John Roque, Chief Nursing Officer at The Medical Center of Aurora & Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital
Woman sitting on steps in Puerto Rico
Maria E. Mancebo, Medical-Surgical Nurse Director, HCA Florida Northwest Hospital

Maria’s story

Maria E. Mancebo, MSN, RN, Medical-Surgical Nurse Director
HCA Florida Northwest Hospital (Margate, Florida)
Puerto Rican Heritage

My father was one of nine children born in the countryside of Puerto Rico, where mountains, freshwater rivers and fruit trees were his world. He came to the United States seeking a better life for himself and went on to share his values. We learned to work hard, study, have integrity, be proud and, most importantly, to rise to the top and not allow our differences to stop us from achieving anything we wanted to do in life.

As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse. My mother had a time in her life when she required frequent hospitalizations. I would visit the hospital every time she was admitted and admire the healthcare professionals for all they could do. I respected the nurses and dreamed about someday becoming a nurse. However, I noticed that none of the nurses or healthcare professionals looked like me.

“I recall doubting myself as I dared to dream of a career as a nurse, thinking that a Latin woman wouldn’t fit in as a nurse. I was about 12 years old at the time and discussed my thoughts with my father. He said that if I wanted to be a nurse, then I could be a nurse. He assured me that all I needed to do was get my education and work hard for me to achieve my goals – he was right.”

Maria E. Mancebo, Medical-Surgical Nurse Director, HCA Florida Northwest Hospital

Each time I achieved growth, I recalled my father’s words, “don’t let your culture or your heritage be an obstacle. Work hard, and soon you will be seen and recognized for your strength and qualities.”

Did you know? HCA Healthcare was named a Diversity Champion at the 2021 LinkedIn Talent Awards. This recognition was given to inspire companies that have initiated and inspired meaningful conversations around diversity.

Headshot of Edna Meliza Gutierrez
Edna Meliza Gutierrez, Director of Surgical Services, Stone Springs Hospital

Edna’s story

Edna Meliza Gutierrez, RN, BSN, CNOR, Director of Surgical Services  
Stone Springs Hospital (Dulles, Virginia)  
Mexican Heritage

I came to the United States at the age of 14 with my parents and brother. Even though I didn’t know any English when I first immigrated to the United States, that did not stop me from graduating high school with honors and continuing my education with a college scholarship. I married my husband very young, had two beautiful boys and then decided to finish my nursing education. It has been a long journey, but just like many immigrants in this country — the sacrifices and hard work have paid off.

The love for the inherited Mexican traditions, values and language keeps me grounded and proud of who I am. It has shaped me into the type of leader I want to be – transformational and inclusive. Treating my co-workers like family, by working side by side with them and advocating for them helps me build trust and commitment to work together for a common cause. 

“I started working for HCA Healthcare six years ago, which to me, has been the real American dream come true – to work hard, give 110% and get recognized for it.”

Edna Meliza Gutierrez, Director of Surgical Services, Stone Springs Hospital

Caring for our communities

To celebrate Conexión Américas’ 20th anniversary during Hispanic Heritage Month, HCA Healthcare colleagues in Nashville volunteered to help paint Conexión Américas’ community mural, “We All Belong.” The mural symbolizes the work of Conexión Américas’ partners and the diverse communities their community center, Casa Azafrán, serves.

Conexión Américas was founded in 2002 to address the pressing challenges, and opportunities, created by demographic changes in Middle Tennessee as an increasing number of Latino families moved to the state. The nonprofit organization assists families and individuals in achieving goals such as buying homes, starting businesses, improving their conversational English, navigating systems in their new community, learning their rights and responsibilities, helping their children succeed in school, and bettering their lives through nationally recognized services and programs.

Related article: Meet the Executive Sponsor of HCA Healthcare’s Hispanic/LatinX Colleague Network.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 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.

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