The 10th edition of Health Care Headliners is VEGAS INC's chance to introduce you to a few people who are making a big difference in local health care.
The names came from nominations that we accepted on vegasinc.com and resulted in bringing to us some truly outstanding people who have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of our friends and neighbors. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about them as much as we did. A special thanks goes to our sponsors: Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, Roseman University, Desert Radiology and HealthCare Partners Medical Group. We appreciate your support and important role in the health care industry.
• Lifetime Achievement •
Sherrilyn Coffman, Ph.D., R.N.
Professor, Nevada State College School of Nursing
Sherrilyn Coffman, Ph.D., R.N., has dedicated her professional path and nearly 50 years of her life to advancing, elevating and extolling the field of nursing, toiling tirelessly as a college-level educator, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and a philanthropist in the field of health care. A native of Indiana who moved to Las Vegas in 1996, Coffman was a founding faculty member of Nevada State College, which was launched in 2002 largely in response to the local and national shortage of nurses.
“Our mission was to educate more nurses and prepare the next generation, and it’s been pretty exciting to see the college grow from a mere idea to a thriving campus,” said Coffman, currently a professor focusing on pediatrics and research who has also served as assistant dean, associate dean and interim dean.
Coffman began her career in nursing upon obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing from Indiana University, where she also went on to earn a master of science in nursing and a Ph.D. in nursing synthesis. With a natural knack for working with kids, Coffman served in various nursing capacities at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, turning to academia and a change of lifestyle as a professor at her alma mater in 1975.
She relocated to Florida in the early 1980s, working again as a staff nurse, but also took a teaching gig in 1988 as a professor at the College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University, a serendipitous move that would resonate with Coffman and later help to shape the very quintessence of NSC.
“Florida Atlantic University has what’s called a ‘caring science’ curriculum in the nursing school, which goes beyond skills, competency and knowledge to look at the student as a whole and consider her relationship with the patient,” Coffman said. “A nurse must be mindful of herself as a force for healing and know when to laugh and when to cry. As one of the first two faculty members at Nevada State College in 2002, we immediately established a caring science curriculum, which is still in place and getting stronger every day.”
In her years with NSC, Coffman has witnessed its growth from just 177 inaugural students in a building with three classrooms and a library, to a 509-acre campus with a robust student body of approximately 3,300. Of that total, 805 are in pre-nursing and 382 are in nursing. (NSC also has schools of education and liberal arts and sciences.)
Coffman also puts her compassion and extensive health care training to use in the community, starting with her affiliation with the Nevada Diabetes Association, an affiliation that was partially precipitated by her position as a pediatric care manager at Sierra Health Services in 1997.
“We were having a terrible time taking care of teenagers with diabetes,” she said. “So I put together a support group, Diabetes in Children and Families, which still meets once a month — which I think is pretty amazing — and is now supported by the Nevada Diabetes Association.”
Through NDA, Coffman is also hands-on with Camp Vegas, a summer-camp-like experience for diabetic children ages 7 to 17. This year’s event took place over spring break at Mt. Potosi 30 miles from town, and was replete with hiking, dancing, campfires, arts and crafts, skits, sports and singalongs, not to mention bonding.
“The campers got to meet other kids with diabetes, which is huge,” said Coffman, who served as head nurse and enlisted the daily assistance of student nurses from NSC.
Coffman is also director of the Dr. Joel and Carol Bower School-Based Health Center located on the campus of Basic High School and serving children of all ages. Nevada State College is a partner in the facility, for which Coffman was instrumental in securing a $10,000 grant from the NV Energy Foundation.
“I’ve only been involved for about five years, but we’ve grown from one nurse practitioner who came in once a week to the only certified school-based health center in the state, serving about 1,000 kids a year,” said Coffman, who is active with numerous trade and professional associations and has no intention of slowing down. “I just want to keep on working until I decide not to.”
— Danielle Birkin
• Research •
Dr. Kate Zhong
Senior Director of Clinical Research and Development, Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
Dr. Kate Zhong was a self-described curious little girl who developed a passion for health care in her native China.
“To me, the white coat symbolized hope and healing and the future,” said Zhong, whose inherent compassion for others coupled with her acute inquisitiveness led her to obtain a medical degree from the West China University of Medical Sciences — enrolling at the age of 16 — and earn a master’s degree in pharmacology and complete a residency in psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Canada, where she became increasingly mesmerized by the human mind and neurocognitive disorders, and discovered a calling working with elderly patients.
“I love to listen to their wisdom and life stories and beautiful memories, which is one reason I got interested in Alzheimer’s.
Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in 2010, Zhong worked as a geriatric psychiatrist and served as a scientific consultant for various pharmaceutical, biotechnology and patient-recruitment companies, and led multiple clinical trials in CNS therapeutic areas, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and mood disorders.
As a result of these experiences, “I gained a lot of knowledge as to how important clinical trials are in finding optimal treatments for patients,” she said, and has put that understanding to practical use in her current role as senior director of clinical research and development.
Zhong and her team have facilitated some 60 clinical trials, and also spearheaded the Healthy Brains Initiative and the development of HealthyBrains.org, which debuted last spring and can be assessed online or through a mobile application.
The creation of the website — which combines technology and community engagement, providing critical information and advice about lifestyle choices that support cognitive function — has helped Zhong revolutionize the way clinical trial-patients are recruited.
“One of the goals of the Healthy Brains Initiative is to build a group of what we call clinical trial-ready cohorts, a population of citizen scientists who are ready and willing to participate, which can potentially expedite the lengthy clinical-trial process,” said Zhong, adding that another objective of the initiative is a push to equate lifespan with brain span. “We’re facing an aging society right now, and advances in technology have substantially increased our lifespans. So we want to ensure that as we get healthier physically, we are also healthy mentally.”
Zhong is also a driving force in bringing a multitude of neurocognitive treatment and prevention trials to the center, including the EMERGE trial for Alzheimer’s, and is committed to keeping the center at the forefront of research efforts.
“Las Vegas has become a research hub for neurodegenerative disorders, and we are proud to be a leading clinical-trial center for memory disorders,” Zhong said.
— Danielle Birkin
• Physician •
Dr. Rutu Ezhuthachan
Medical Director, Health Plan of Nevada/UnitedHealthcare, Las Vegas
As the current Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare’s Health Plan of Nevada, Dr. Rutu Ezhuthachan strives to advance Nevada’s health care system by engaging providers and devising vital campaigns.
Since joining Health Plan of Nevada as medical director in 2013 and serving as chairwoman of UnitedHealthcare of Nevada’s task force, Ezhuthachan has spearheaded projects related to maternal and adolescent health and focusing on children and adolescents, women and neonatal health care. She oversees Health Plan of Nevada programs such as Cribs for Kids, Willing Hands, Community Health Workers and Care for Me.
Ezhuthachan served eight years as chief of pediatrics for Southwest Medical Associates. With her background in pediatrics, it comes as no surprise that “Dr. E,” as her patients affectionately call her, champions children’s health initiatives, such as immunization education, the prevention of preterm births, decreasing Cesarean sections and improving breast-feeding rates.
“The culture at UnitedHealthcare is to go above and beyond to help our members live healthier lives,” Ezhuthachan said. “Our CEO, Don Giancursio, empowers us to create innovative ways to help our members. And of course we have a great team of five doctors and more 50 nurses and other professionals on our care management team who put the member’s health at the forefront of all of our decisions.”
Her team can claim many accomplishments for 2015, such as creating new transitional housing options for Medicaid members, starting Nevada’s first community health worker program to walk members through the complicated health care system, and Cribs for Kids, which provides free cribs to Medicaid mothers who complete all of their prenatal medical appointments.
“But the one that stands out is Medicine on the Move, our new mobile clinic,” Ezhuthachan said. “Medicine on the move is a 45-foot-long mobile clinic that will take care directly to our members who have the most difficulty accessing care. The mobile clinic is staffed by doctors and nurses and has two exam rooms and a radiology suite featuring x-ray and mammography.”
Looking across Las Vegas, Ezhuthachan said, “There are not enough doctors. So we have to find ways to get care to people. At UnitedHealthcare we pushed for telemedicine services and our NowClinic has already had more than 13,000 consults, we built a new mobile clinic to take care to the people, and our partners at Southwest Medical Associates have added 75 physicians in the last 18 months.”
However, she said, “With UNLV’s medical school opening next year and an increase in residency programs throughout the Las Vegas valley, there is help coming.”
For the rest of 2016, she promises, “We will continue to find ways to help our members to live healthy lives. It would have been difficult to predict in 2014 all of the successes we had in 2015, so I am just hoping we are able to continue to provide quality care to our members.”
— Howard Riell
• Volunteer •
Student Nurses Association
Roseman University College of Nursing
The 75 members of the Student Nurses Association at Roseman University College of Nursing are committed to community health activities and passionate about lending a helping hand to those in need.
A local chapter of the nonprofit National Student Nurses Association, the Roseman University branch has outreach efforts making a difference in Nevada.
Most notably, the association and its members support FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization designed to help families with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
The association’s affiliation with FEAT was precipitated in 2015 by recent Roseman nursing graduate Bobbie Basson, who served as the nurses association’s community chairwoman.
“I was working with Sport-Social, which focuses on helping kids live healthy social lives, and got paired up with FEAT, and I thought our class would be interested in volunteering with them,” Basson said. “We got involved with the A Games, which are like the X Games for children with autism.”
Basson said the association also supported FEAT at the Torino Foundation 2015 Summer Campus Programs for children challenged with life-threatening illnesses or special needs, and kids who are vulnerable or in at-risk situations. Association members volunteered at Camp I Am and Camp Heart & Soul, among other efforts.
“We also do food drives and basic-needs drives for the Salvation Army, (amassing) items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, and socks and underwear, and have also paired the last two Christmases with UMC’s Children’s Hospital to collect toys to donate to the kids who didn’t get to spend Christmas at home,” said Basson, who recently passed the reigns of the Student Nurses Association along to Roseman University nursing student Amanda Birdwell.
“It has been an incredible transition filling Bobbie’s position as SNA’s community chair,” said Birdwell, who has been busy with the 2016 A Games. “I knew that I had some very large shoes to fill, but Bobbie took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. FEAT and the A Games hold a special place in the hearts of SNA members and Roseman University as a whole, and together we are bringing attention to autism awareness.”
— Danielle Birkin
• Community Outreach •
Dr. Souzan El-Eid
Breast Surgeon, Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada
Growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Souzan El-Eid witnessed first-hand the ravages of war, an experience that precipitated her foray into the health care arena and prompted her move to the United States, where she attended the University of Nebraska College of Medicine before completing an internship at Yale New Haven Hospital Saint Raphael and a general surgery residency at Nassau University.
“In Beirut, I saw people wounded and dying, and I got interested in helping — my fellowship is in critical-care trauma,” said El-Eid, who was in private practice in that field in New York for 12 years. “But at the time, I was the only woman surgeon in the area, and my patients kept showing up with their mammograms, so that guided me into breast oncology, and I went back and trained and got certified.”
El-Eid joined Comprehensive Cancer Centers in 2010, seeing perhaps two dozen patients per day and serving as principal investigator for several clinical research studies.
She also works with a number of other health care organizations, including Summerlin Hospital’s Summerlin Breast Care Center, which she was instrumental in establishing.
“At the time, there was only one center for breast (care), and that was at Sunrise Hospital,” said El-Eid, who recognized the need for such a facility in the southwest valley. “Summerlin Hospital created a comfortable and classy wing for the center, which has been a success.”
El-Eid also serves as co-chairwoman of the hospital’s Cancer Committee and Breast Tumor Board, and has helped to expand the facility’s cancer program, including adding a palliative care program and providing advanced screening tools for lung cancer.
She also sits on the board of the Southern Nevada chapter of the American Cancer Society, and is treasurer of the Nevada Oncology Society Board, where she is involved with numerous outreach and advocacy efforts, including an ongoing education series for cancer-care professionals.
In addition, El-Eid is president-elect of the Clark County Medical Society and will assume the top leadership position of the organization this June. Her goals for the organization include elevating its status as a resource, offering patient referrals and assisting providers with meeting continuing medical-education requirements to ensure all patients’ needs are met by the most qualified professionals. Through CCMS, she also offers expertise at conventions and roundtable discussions, and provides recommendations about health care-related legislation through the society’s political action committee.
“I also teach (as an adjunct professor of general surgery) at Touro University, where I tell my students that if you’re a bad doctor, your reputation will follow you, so always tell the truth, and if you make a mistake, look the patient in the eye and tell them,” said El-Eid, who was also recently an instructor at the American Society of Breast Surgeons’ 15th annual meeting, teaching a class on breast ultrasound and stereotactic breast biopsy.
— Danielle Birkin
• Innovation •
Dr. Lynn Kowalski
Gynecologic Oncologist, Nevada Surgery & Cancer Care
Making the most of her decades of experience in the medical field, Dr. Lynn Kowalski has made significant strides in improving women’s access to health care in Southern Nevada.
As a leading gynecologic oncologist, she focuses on introducing new medical technologies that offer improved treatments for complex women’s health issues, helping to improve Nevada’s status in terms of quality of care provided. Her efforts include building one of the busiest robotic surgery practices in the United States.
Kowalski is also one of the first providers in the area to adopt new laser technology that addresses women’s health issues, including issues related to menopause and post-childbirth, which she hopes will improve a woman’s quality of life.
Since founding her own practice in 2005, Kowalski has remained passionate about providing the most advanced medical solutions for her patients.
“I have served the Las Vegas community for nearly 20 years with an eye toward innovation in medicine,” she said. “In 2005, I was the first gynecologist in the state to perform minimally invasive gynecologic procedures with the surgical robot, a major advance in technology for patients needing surgery. Since then, I have performed thousands of robotic procedures, even in women with complex surgical problems, leading to an overall decrease in the rate of invasive and outdated procedures in our community. I have continued to champion the adoption of less invasive surgical techniques by teaching robotic surgery to others and by helping to direct several robotic programs city-wide.”
Kowalski points to her partner, surgeon Dr. Stephanie Wishnev, as one of her mentors. “She practices medicine with the utmost integrity and attention to quality, and her dedication always inspires me to be the best I can be.”
Dr. Javier Magrina from the Mayo Clinic has also been a valued teacher. “He has the rare ability to plant a seed of growth into the heart and mind of a student, tend it to maturity, and then set it free to populate the world.”
Last year, Kowalski completed a cooperative clinical trial on the use of sentinel lymph node detection for uterine and cervical cancer. “This study has profoundly changed the way physicians can care for women with these cancers,” she said. “In affiliation with Indiana University and the University of North Carolina, our data has just been presented and demonstrates the success of a new meaningful change in practice for these patients.”
With the formation of several new residency programs, Kowalski says the community will soon be training its future physicians and physician-leaders. “Those of us who have been here all along providing great care can share our expertise with these new doctors-in-training and attract other great doctors to join our community. I hope that, as local residents see the quality of care rise here, confidence and even pride in our medical community will follow.”
— Howard Riell
• Education •
Dr. Mark Penn
Founding Dean, College of Medicine | Chancellor, Summerlin Campus, Roseman University of Health Sciences
Dr. Mark Penn offers a collaborative approach to addressing Nevada’s shortage of physicians at the level of education, training and retention in the state. He promotes a positive work environment and is a role model for professionalism.
Penn feels that his greatest accomplishment in 2015 was hiring and bringing together a team of faculty and staff, and taking steps to prepare his institution for the medical school accreditation process.
Accreditation is “a very complicated and difficult process. It starts with understanding the high standards of the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education, our national accrediting body for
MD-granting medical schools), and making sure all of the standards are addressed, in order to begin recruiting the first class of medical students.”
Penn’s list of goals for 2016 is a long one. First and foremost, he said, is seeking the accreditation for the medical college so that it can begin recruiting students. “We are currently awaiting the LCME’s decision at its June 2016 meeting to determine whether or not we will receive accreditation. We need to continue hiring needed faculty and staff, as well as continue to lay the foundation for outstanding research. In addition, we will fine tune our curriculum and continue to work with our hospital partners to further develop GME (graduate medical education or residency) opportunities for our state.”
There are, he said, “some great things happening in our valley — and there are some challenges. We have excellent physicians in the medical specialties in various areas throughout the valley. However, we don’t have enough physicians as well as other health care professionals, such as nurses. We also don’t have enough residency training programs.”
Penn sees growth. “We are over 2,000 physicians behind in being an ‘average’ state, and there is nothing average about Nevada. The Roseman University College of Medicine is going to make a major difference in the future of health care in Southern Nevada and beyond.”
Penn foresees greater collaboration between all of the medical schools and hospital systems. “Roseman, UNLV and Touro will be the three medical schools in our valley by the summer of 2017, after University of Nevada School of Medicine moves back to Reno with its medical students. We will see more residency and fellowship programs. In addition to those hospitals currently engaged in residency education, we have three hospital systems that are in the process of expanding their residency programs or starting new programs.”
“I also anticipate more public and private partnerships centered on health care expansion. Because of our large and growing community, together we will make the positive changes be sustainable.”
— Howard Riell
• Dentistry •
Dr. Lydia Wyatt
Dentist / Practice Owner, Lydia Wyatt D.D.S. — Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
Dr. Lydia Wyatt’s dental career began as an 18-year-old high school graduate in Rayne, Louisiana, a small town known as the Frog Capital of the World.
One afternoon, she went to the office of Dr. Edward Moody for a dental checkup and left with a job offer to be a dental assistant. Wyatt still doesn’t know why Moody offered her that job, but for a teenager about to enroll as an undeclared student at Louisiana State University it helped forge a passion for helping the less fortunate receive dental care.
The impact of growing up and treating patients in an economically disadvantaged community like Rayne was profound. Wyatt says socioeconomic labels did not define people in Rayne and that generosity was the norm, not the exception. When somebody needed dental work but did not have insurance, the prevailing attitude was, “We need to do something, and let’s figure it out.”
That sense of selflessness crystallized Wyatt’s professional goals as she graduated from LSU’s School of Dentistry in 2000 and practiced at a pediatric office and a general practice in New Orleans. In 2003, on the advice of her brother who lived in Las Vegas, Wyatt took and passed the Nevada State Board Dental Exam. The following year, she moved here and began working on building a practice of her own.
Topping her list of things she got done in 2015 was planning and organizing the formation of the Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN) dental program with Treasurer Dr. Gard Jameson, founder, and President Dr. Florence Jameson; and other board members Dr. Rebecca Edgeworth, the group’s medical director; and Amy Schmidt, its executive director.
“This was truly a collaborative effort, and it would not have been accomplished without all of their efforts and much-appreciated support,” Wyatt said.
Health care in the Las Vegas Valley is “healthy and getting healthier,” Wyatt has found. “Things like involvement in activities through organizations like Volunteers in Medicine and other community outreach programs by more and more caregivers are signs of a better future for all of us as a whole. I do have concerns with regards to limited access to care, as well as limits to the amount and quality of that care itself — not so much from the providers but rather from other parties who have motives other than the best patient outcomes.”
During the months ahead, Wyatt hopes to raise awareness of the need for dental services for the many in the community without access to it, and to recruit more volunteers dentists from Southern Nevada. “I hope to continue to build relationships with vendors and dental-material suppliers to act as community partners with VMSN and donate many needed supplies to accomplish the mission.”
In the years to come, Wyatt adds, “Hopefully we will see increased access to the already high-quality health care and further improvement to the health care itself. I see VMSN as playing a larger role in the progress.”
— Howard Riell
• Nursing •
Mary Jo Solon
Executive Director and Chief Nursing Officer, Southwest Medical Associates
A community’s quality of life is directly related to the health of its members. For years, many Southern Nevadans have lacked trust in their health care system, sometimes looking out of state for care. Mary Jo Solon knows that the key is in the medical education system. Supporting and improving the health care education system in Nevada improves health care overall, and Solon is dedicated to doing exactly that.
Under her direction, Southwest Medical Associates has been able to expand and grow its clinical preceptorships for advance practice registered nurses. In medical education, a preceptor is a skilled practitioner or faculty member who supervises students in a clinical setting to allow practical experience with patients.
Having taught nursing in Oregon and New Mexico, Solon knows firsthand the challenges of new nurses. She has expanded Southwest Medical’s relationship with the local higher educational system. Students take part in the program for a semester, logging hundreds of hours. Over the past half decade, the number of students in the program has increased at a rapid rate.
Solon was instrumental in building an associate RN program at Southwest Medical to help nurses make the transition from an academic to the practice environment, providing much needed support for new graduate nurses in that transitory phase.
Solon also sits on an advisory board for the College of Southern Nevada nursing program, and works closely with UNLV and Nevada State College. Within the Southwest Medical organization, she works with a group of OptumHealth nurse executives providing leadership and direction for new nurses, creating a strategy that includes staff education and preparation for public health issues they may confront.
“I’ve been a registered nurse for many years,” she said. “That means I have a strong science background along with operational and patient care expertise. It’s a great combination. Being a registered nurse requires resilience, fortitude, compassion and teamwork .”
According to Solon, 2015 was “a stellar year for Southwest Medical Associates. We opened a number of health care centers throughout the Las Vegas Valley so that we are accessible and ready to meet the needs of our patients. We on-boarded new providers and staff to support that growth and to provide timely access and care for patients. And we received several high quality-of-care designations. These rating encompass so many elements including a focus on the patient experience. I’m a registered nurse, and so for me quality rating resonates with my professional values and beliefs.”
Looking ahead, Solon said she and her colleagues remain focused on growth and innovation. “For example, our Medicine on the Move mobile health care center will be on the road in 2016 and will offer ease and convenience to our patients.”
— Howard Riell
• Manager/Administration •
Dr. Ama Brobbey
Chief Medical Officer, HealthCare Partners Medical Group
Born and raised in the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Ama Brobbey was inspired to pursue a medical career by her father, a surgeon who owned one of the first private hospitals in the country, and her mother, a nurse who worked alongside him.
“I come from a very traditional family that has been in health care for a long time, and it was kind of expected of me from a very young age,” said Brobbey, who lived on the hospital’s campus and witnessed the difference proper medical care could make. “For me, health care was a very natural progression that I absolutely enjoy.”
Brobbey obtained her medical degree at the University of Ghana Medical School, serving as a primary care provider prior to moving to the United States in 2000 and completing her residency at Yale New Haven Hospital Saint Raphael. In 2003, she relocated to Southern Nevada, joining HealthCare Partners Medical Group as a resident physician in the skilled nursing facilities department, soon making lead physician of the department. Rapidly rising through the ranks at HealthCare Partners, she went on to the acute care department where she also became lead physician. She then became medical director for the organization’s in-patient team and managed the primary care team. She was named chief medical officer in 2015.
Brobbey leads overall strategies for the quality and improvement of HealthCare Partners’ clinical outcomes and oversees the education, performance, recruitment and retention of the organization’s physicians, among other myriad responsibilities.
A passionate proponent of HealthCare Partners’ Total Care Model approach that emphasizes quality of care, Brobbey is committed to reducing health care industry waste and inefficiency while improving patient services and access.
“I’ve been working on the principles of our Total Care Model for several years now, along with our legacy DaVita HCP markets in California and Florida, and as we continue to grow in other states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, they adopt this value-based model of care as well,” Brobbey said, adding that under her leadership, hospitalists went from seeing about 26 patients a day to capping at 15 to ensure good quality care.
The readmission rate for D-HCP is significantly lower than Medicare Fee-For-Service, and as Medicare recently announced its plans to move away from volume-based incentives for provides, Brobbey said the Total Care Model will serve as a national example of how to successfully implement a value- and quality-based method as other organizations try and implement the same approach.
“We are also working on creating resources in the community for our seniors, including revamping our urgent care services, and are constantly looking for ways to minimize out-of-pocket expenses for our seniors,” she said.
— Danielle Birkin
• Emergency Services •
Certified Nursing Assistant, Observation Unit, Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center
One Monday in February, Joshua Sarabia arrived at the Observation Unit at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center and received his assignment. He would be caring for an elderly female patient who is deaf, mute and almost totally blind. He made every effort to communicate with her in the conventional manner, but was not satisfied with the result. So he went online and found a website that allowed him to key in the words he needed to communicate. He printed them out and created a Braille “grid” by pushing holes through the paper to form the words needed. It was just enough to allow the patient to read the words he needed to convey. The patient was thrilled to communicate, and tears of joy began to flow.
It was not the first time Joshua had exceeded a patient’s expectations. It’s just what he does.
Another story: an elderly Spanish-speaking female patient was crying, and no one knew why. Sarabia was called to translate. The woman said she was crying because none of her nine children had come to the hospital to visit her. Sarabia was able to contact her family, and arranged for one of them to speak to the patient over the phone.
“First and for most I would like to thank God and my parents and Sunrise Hospital for this opportunity that has been presented to me,” says Sarabia.
“I was recently nominated for employee of the year due to an action of love and care towards a certain patient. I honestly do not know why I have been nominated to be part of Health Care Headliners. I work with so many great employees and I think people should know how much we do for our patients. That this is more than a job, it’s more than a paycheck. It’s someone’s family member. It could be our own loved ones. It’s someone’s beautiful life and soul.
“Loving and showing care shouldn’t be a hassle but our lifestyle, especially as a health care provider. I believe love and care happen at health care areas all over the place, everyday.”
A highlight from last year for Sarabia was being selected as Employee of the Month in March 2015, and eventually Employee of the Year. “I say all that with much humbleness. I have only been working at Sunrise Hospital for about four years, and to be able to get that award means a lot to me.”
This year, the focus remains on keeping his priorities straight, he explains. “My to-do list consists of finishing my four prerequisite classes in order to apply for the BSN RN program. I will be taking those four classes this summer and, Lord willing, apply for the program by 2016 and get accepted.”
As a CNA, Sarabia said, “I have learned a lot of new medical things, I’ve experienced good times and bad times, but why not take it to another level? I want to be able to do more to help more.”
— Howard Riell