Service beyond duty: From left, McField-Avila, Gonzalez and Santana
Named in honor of Ernesto González, MD -- an MGH dermatologist, director of the MGH International Training Program and one who has dedicated much of his life to serving those in need -- the Ernesto González Award for Outstanding Service to the Latino Community is presented each year as part of Latino Heritage Month at the MGH.
Magaly Valentin, a generalist in Human Resources, provided a bilingual welcome for guests at the Oct. 8 award breakfast in the Thier Conference Room. Following remarks by Jeff Davis, senior vice president for Human Resources, Carmen Vega-Barachowitz, MS, CCC-SLP, the 2009 González Award recipient and director of Speech, Language, Swallowing and Reading Disorders, spoke about the importance of meaningful contributions to the community. She also shared the names of the 12 nominees and the reasons each was nominated.
Gonzalez then presented the awards to this year's winners, Bernice McField-Avila, a primary care access coordinator for the Emergency Department, and Mayra Santana, RN, a staff nurse at the Chelsea HealthCare Center.
"It is humbling to see what all of the nominees have done over the years," said González. "Their efforts are the essence of service beyond duty."
McField-Avila was recognized for her work with patients, many of whom don't speak English. Trained as a physician in her native Honduras, she educates those visiting the Emergency Department about the importance of having a primary care physician. She also co-chairs the Hausman Fellowship, which is aimed at enhancing diversity among the nursing staff at the MGH.
Santana was honored for continually creating a superior care experience for all patients -- specifically those who are members of an underserved population. During her 10 years at the health center, Santana has established support groups for patients experiencing various medical and emotional issues.
"I think our patients feel a special bond with her because she has a true understanding of where they have come from and the obstacles they sometimes face," said Eneida Barreto, a patient service coordinator at Chelsea HealthCare Center, in her nomination of Santana.
This year's event featured two lively performances of Latino songs and dances. Aristeo Amaro, an MGH surgical technician, delighted the audience by playing guitar and singing three traditional Mexican songs, and dance group Ballet Monte Alban de Veronica Robles performed traditional Puerto Rican and Columbian dances.