Hispanic Heritage Month

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with four of our colleagues to learn a little more about their jobs and how their heritage has affected their lives and their career.

Damaris Acevedo, Health Coach, Memorial Primary Care. Health coach Damaris Acevedo helps patients establish a medical home in Memorial Primary Care, where they can access continuous preventive care and manage their chronic conditions. She talks about her job and how her Puerto Rican heritage has influenced her ability to serve patients and families.

Rafael Cambero, Electrician, Facilities Management, Memorial Hospital Miramar. Rafael Cambero is ready for anything the day throws at him, because patients, families and his co-workers all rely on him to help keep Memorial Hospital Miramar in working order. He reflects on the importance of his job and how his Dominican heritage influences him.

Carolina Grindstaff, Patient Access Assistant, Pediatric Pulmonology. Carolina Grindstaff is Memorial Physician Group practices supervisor. Prior to that appointment, she served as patient access assistant at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Medical Office. She shares her thoughts on how her Colombian heritage has informed her life and career.

Jorge Sotelo, MD, Chief, Inpatient Psychiatry Program and Program Director, Psychiatry Residency Program. At first, Dr. Jorge Sotelo did not consider a career in psychiatry, but he got interested in it as a third-year medical student. He talks about his career and experiences of coming to the US as a child from Peru.

What brought you to Memorial for your career?

“I’d been in another job for about 11 years until my boss retired, and after maternity leave I wanted to go back to work. I saw a Memorial ad for what we used to call a wellness coach and thought it sounded interesting. I really hoped I’d get the job, because I know Memorial has high standards when it comes to hiring people. I’d always heard great things about the organization.” – Damaris

“I was part of the team that helped build Memorial Hospital Miramar 17 years ago. I started working on the Medical Office Building first, and then moved on to the hospital. Then I worked at Miami International Airport for a while, but the Lord opened this door at Memorial for me. I’ve been here for 11-1/2 years now.” – Rafael

“Ten years ago, my father was a cancer patient at another hospital, where his experience was really bad. So we packed up his medical records and came to Dr. Daren Grossman at Memorial Hospital West. My dad became the second patient to receive a bone marrow transplant at Memorial. We were treated like family. It inspired me to create the same kind of positive impact for our patients.” – Carolina

What’s one of the best parts of your job?

“I like the education part of being a health coach. I partner with an RN, and we contact patients who have been treated at our ERs and follow up with them about their health and what they may need. We help them understand that they don’t have to go to an emergency room for their healthcare – they have preventive options like primary care, and other options like urgent care and our mobile vans, and we can help them with referrals and other needs.” – Damaris

“I like many things, but I like the fact that Memorial helps you advance in your career. You can get the support you need to grow. If you want to go back to school, Memorial’s Education Assistance program can help you. I’m so grateful for that, because I had a journeyman electrician’s license in Miami. When I came to Memorial, I was offered the opportunity to get my master electrician’s license. Memorial gave me the support to do that. There are so many companies out there that don’t do what Memorial does for its employees.” – Rafael

“The fact that we can get patients to a place from which they can manage their conditions, so that those conditions have less of an impact on their lives. Also, Memorial Regional Hospital has a psychiatric ER staffed with psychiatrists seven days a week, so we don’t have to rely on psychiatrists who need to come in from the community to evaluate patients in the ER. And with Memorial’s Graduate Medical Education program, we now have residents working in the ER most of the year as well. Our residency program has made great strides, and with our ideal location, diverse patient population, breadth of clinical services and our camaraderie, Memorial is a great place for our residents to train.” – Dr. Sotelo

What kind of impact has your family’s heritage had on your ability to do your job?

“When I was growing up, we spoke purely Spanish in our household. My brother and I didn’t know English until we started school, so now we’re both bilingual. You can pick up a second language more easily when you’re young like we were. In my job at Memorial, I communicate with most patients in Spanish, but it makes a difference when you’re able to talk to people in either language. And they’re so receptive. They often don’t expect the follow-up call, so a lot of them say, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you for checking up on me.’” – Damaris

“My family is from the Dominican Republic. I was born in New York City, but I was with my parents in the DR until I was about 21, when I thought, I want to go back to where I was born. There are more opportunities there.

My parents taught me how important it is to be responsible. It’s one of the key things about work – you have to treat your job like you’re taking care of what is yours. I was raised to take ownership: If you see something that’s wrong, even if it’s not your responsibility, fix it or put it right, because our patients need us to do that. I told my boss, the Lord is watching me at all times. If I work for him and am honest with him, I won’t have a problem.” – Rafael

“My dad had been a mechanical engineer in Colombia. When he came to the US, he had to look for new ways to support our family. My aunt, who was already here, was a bridge for him – she helped open doors. My family’s sense of unity, and its dedication to caring for and encouraging one another, gave me a passion for collaboration and teamwork. I try to be a good influence, and assist my co-workers and those we serve in any way I can. It’s very fulfilling – if I can help others, I’ll be okay, too.” – Carolina

“I was living in Lima, Peru, and when I was nine, my parents separated. My mother, younger brother, and I moved to the US when I was 11 years old. It was exciting for me, even though it was kind of a culture shock. I spoke no English whatsoever, so all of my classes in the seventh grade were taught as English-as-a-second-language courses.

I think that my family’s work ethic had a significant impact on me. My parents taught me that there’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. So I felt I had to be competitive in school. I was often the only Hispanic student in Honors and Advanced Placement classes in high school, so I had to prove to my classmates that, hey, even a brown kid from Peru can compete with you guys! The bottom line in my family was always that you have no limitations if you work hard, that hard work is always rewarded in one way or another. You can accomplish a lot.” – Dr. Sotelo