Congratulations to this year's winners of our annual Hispanic Achiever Awards. After reviewing nominations from managers, the Latino Heritage Committee selected three recipients, who will be recognized twice’Äîfirst at the Latino Heritage Celebration at Children's and then at an event at the Martha Eliot Health Center (MEHC).
Grisel Velasquez, an account representative at MEHC, was recognized for her dedication during the past 24 years. "It's been a long ride and a short ride at the same time," she says. "I enjoy my job so much and feel at home here." Velasquez manages the payroll for more than 120 employees, handles the health center's check deposits and processes employees' T-passes, performance reviews, terminations and transfers. But she goes beyond these duties and often steps in to give administrative support to the Adolescent and Optometry departments when they're short-staffed. Her constant teamwork is what motivated her manager, Tarsha Weaver, assistant administrator, to nominate her for the award. "She's very flexible and supportive of her peers, and she's often assisting employees, including physicians," she says.
Carlos Rivera, an administrative associate on 9 South, was chosen as an achiever for his ability to juggle the needs of patients, families and fellow staff members. "Carlos answers at least 100 questions a day and always responds right away if it's important," says his manager, Jayne Rogers, RNC, MSN, nursing director, Inpatient Medicine. Rivera also stands out for his ability to interpret and advocate for the Spanish-speaking patients on the floor. "He's able to carefully listen to patients' needs," says Rogers. Rivera can often be seen comforting patients in need of consoling words and joking with those in need of attention. "When I think of teamwork, Carlos is the leader," says Rogers.
The third award went to Brenda Torres, patient services assistant. Staff members on 10 Northwest often joke that they'll only go on vacation when she's on vacation, since she is so instrumental in making their jobs easier. "She's a valued member of our team and contributes enormously to the operation of our floor," says her manager, Susan Baccari, RN, nurse manager. Torres is responsible for the clinical supply needs of the unit and monitoring and updating all inventory. She's also responsible for collaborating with other departments to regulate compliance and safety issues. Her top-notch skills have led to more cost-effective processes for the unit.
"My favorite part of my job is contributing to caring for the patients," she says. Torres is always ready to assist in emergency situations and has supplies, monitors and transfer equipment at the ready. "No matter how busy she may be, she'll drop what she's doing and the leave the unit to seek a needed item for patients," Baccari says.
The Latino Heritage Celebration at Children's is October 9, 1 p.m., in Enders Auditorium, and will feature keynote speaker Jarrett Barrios, former senator of Massachusetts and current president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield foundation. During the ceremony, the Latino Heritage Committee will present the Hispanic Achiever Awards. The recipients will be recognized again October 11, 1 p.m. at the MEHC celebration, which will feature a cultural presentation.
With the sounds of salsa music, African drums and children's laughter reverberating through the air, Jamaica Plain's Jackson Square buzzed with excitement during Martha Eliot Health Center's (MEHC) annual community health fair, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities, which drew hundreds of families on a hot Saturday afternoon on Sept. 8.
Local residents of all ages and ethnicities streamed into the health center and strolled throughout its grounds, participating in numerous interactive activities, which promoted wellness, nutrition, fitness, injury prevention and youth empowerment. The clinical staff of MEHC worked hard all day, providing more than 200 free preventative and chronic disease screenings, as well as assistance in obtaining health coverage including Medicaid, Medicare and Commonwealth Care. The health screenings included vision, glucose, blood pressure, prostate, HIV and body mass index).
Guests enjoyed healthful food, as well as Ben & Jerry's ice-cream, while clowns from Children's Hospital Boston's Clown Care Unit entertained children with games. Children seemed to most enjoy the fair's fun physical activities, such as the highly-popular Dance Dance Revolution, as well as a large inflated "moon-walk" and basketball games. Other entertainment was provided by Grupo Fantasia, Bromely Health Cheerleaders, Bean town Jumpers, West African Dance Troupe and Leonard Tshitenge, African and urban spoken word artist.
Local businesses and community-based organizations generously supported the health fair, including Stop & Shop, which provided free lunch to more than 100 event volunteers and guests. "I would like to thank everyone who participated," says James Cote, executive director of MEHC. "It was an extremely successful event thanks to the commitment, collaboration and teamwork of all involved. "I can't express how much I appreciate the efforts and hard work from all our volunteers, staff and community partners."
Event speakers included Boston City Councilor John M. Tobin, Jr., District 6, James Mandell, MD, president and CEO of Children's, Mildred Hailey, a founding member of MEHC, and Guillermo Gonzalez, MEHC's chairman of the board. The master of ceremonies was Alberto Vasallo III, vice-president of El Mundo newspaper, which is based in Jamaica Plain. During the event, department store chain Kohl's presented a check for $370,000 to support fitness and nutrition programs at Children's. Funds will be directed to MEHC and other community health centers in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and local neighborhoods. Kohl's also donated backpacks and other fitness equipment to kids at the fair.
The following organizations participated in the Healthy Families, Healthy Communities health fair: Art for Kool Kidz, Avon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Body by Brandy, Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, Boston Medical Center, Boston Police Department, Boston Public Health Commission, BMC Health Net Plan, BU Dental, Colgate Van, Delta Dental, Harvard Medical School Dental, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Hyde Square Task Force, INC, Jamaica Plain Head Start, JFY Networks with Urban Edge, Kohl's, Latin American Health Institute, Mass Health, Neighborhood Health Plan and Stop & Shop.