FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America's hospitals and the patients we serve.

Workforce | FAH Policy Blog Team

We Are Health Care – Celebrating Caregivers During 2023 Hospital Week  

We are Health Care – four words that describe hospitals and the caregivers all of us depend on.  

This simple phrase is also the theme of National Hospital Week 2023, which runs from May 7th through the 13th. Each year, the Federation of American Hospitals takes this week to show our gratitude to the dedicated physicians, nurses, therapists, clinicians, engineers, technicians, custodial workers, food service workers, volunteers and administrators who keep hospitals operating all day, every day to care for anyone who walks through their doors. Read statement from FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn here.  

In line with this year’s theme, we are highlighting the dedicated work of the men and women who support the well-being of hospitals and communities across the country. We are recognizing these hospital heroes – or a superhero in one case – because they have gone above and beyond to serve patients, directly and indirectly.   

There are thousands upon thousands of stories in hospitals from coast to coast – we want to share these five with you: 

Dr. Jaren Riley 
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children 
Denver, CO 

Dr. Jaren Riley is a highly regarded pediatric orthopedic surgeon for spine and scoliosis treatment. In fact, he was the first in the Rocky Mountain Region to perform vertebral body tethering, a groundbreaking scoliosis treatment. But to his patients, he is also known for his compassion. 

Nellie Carmona, 13, a scoliosis patient at HCA Healthcare’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, has undergone four major spine surgeries and many other treatments. Noticing that she was nervous during their interactions in the hospital, Dr. Riley decided to swap out his doctor scrubs for a costume. 

“Really, the whole point was to try to make Nellie feel comfortable, feel cared for. And hopefully, that would help her to open up and talk a little more — just so that I knew she felt comfortable with what was happening.” 

Dr. Riley’s plan worked, and he began to don a new costume for each visit, including a turkey, a pirate, and Nellie’s favorite — a dinosaur. Nellie’s newfound confidence and ease during appointments are evident in her huge smile whenever Dr. Riley enters the room. 

You can read more here.

Declan Fulton 
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of East Valley 
Mesa, AZ 

In 2010, Declan Fulton was a scholarship soccer player at Pima Community College with his sights set on going pro. But while hiking with friends, he fell 15 feet onto rocks – and everything changed. Declan suffered a traumatic brain injury, shattered his pelvis, broke his back, fractured multiple bones in his face/skull and punctured a lung. 

After months of rehab, he recovered and returned to the soccer field and helped his team win a national championship – but his career goals had changed. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who helped him and work in physical therapy.   

Declan attended school to become a physical therapy assistant and was hired by Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of East Valley after graduation about four years ago, making his dream of helping others a reality. He also became a certified clinical instructor, educating physical therapy assistant students during their clinical training at his hospital.  

You can read more here

Caregiving Teams 
Temecula Valley Hospital 
Temecula, California 

Steffani Natter doesn’t remember much of the day when her heart suddenly stopped, but she knows it was the day she met her “framily,” the first responders and medical professionals came together to save her life. 

One day last year while at home, Steff suffered a cardiac arrest. Her husband, Dylan, called 911 and dispatch instructed him on how to perform CPR. 

Paramedics arrived and rushed Steff to Temecula Valley Hospital. They successfully stabilized her after her heart stopped a second time, and later placed her in an induced coma before transferring her to the ICU. Dylan said, “I was in awe by what seemed to me like organized chaos. Everything and everyone came together and took her through that journey back to life.” 

Steff spent five days on full life support, but things improved, and she eventually walked out of the hospital. 

“There was a constant flow of nurses who came in to help me,” she says. “Though I didn’t remember all the nurses that treated me, they all knew me. There was investment from the entire staff.” 

Dylan and Steff are grateful for their “framily” and greater community.  

You can read more here

Abigail Clavijo 
Saint Michael’s Medical Center 
Newark, NJ 

Abigail Clavijo has worked in health care for more than 30 years and serves as the IT Department manager at Saint Michael’s Medical Center, where she oversees the day-to-day operations in the Data Processing Department, as well as the management of other important tasks. 

She enjoys the critical thinking elements of health care IT and says, while working thought COVID in person was challenging it was also rewarding. 

“We worked in the hospital without a remote option. We assisted the staff and patients with technology needs to include virtual options, as well as troubleshooting and exchanging hardware required for staff use. It was definitely a scary time, but we worked together and supported each other; and got through it.” 

You can read more here.

Yvette Salas 
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami 
Miami, FL 

Yvette Salas has worked as a nurse for more than 25 years, but it wasn’t until 2016 that she found her real calling working in rehab. 

“Coming from ICU and PCU, I came across rehab nursing by accident! I never realized it was such a diverse specialty. When my first patient said ‘I love you’ to his mom after not speaking for six months, I knew rehab nursing was for me. That moment sealed the deal. I work hard every day to ensure other patients get the same opportunity to experience that special moment.” 

Yvette currently serves as the Infection Preventionist and Hospital Educator at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Miami. She started as a night shift supervisor, eventually progressing to her current role. Yvette says she is motivated by “the miracles we witness and the hard work that patients, families, and staff put in to achieve patient goals.” 

Her hard work and dedication were recently recognized by the Assocation of Rehabilitation Nurses who named her 2022 Nurse Educator of the Year. 

You can read more here.