Broward Health Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week. Broward Health, one of the 10 largest public health systems in the United States, celebrates the rich diversity of its caregivers and team members. Some of the health system’s Hispanic American employees share personal stories about their respective heritages.
Joel Camargo is a biomedical equipment specialist at Broward Health Corporate. He’s worked for the system for the past 22 years. Raised in a Puerto Rican family, Camargo said that sharing delicious foods at family gatherings is one of the most special aspects of his heritage.
“Being raised in a Puerto Rican family, I’ve gotten to experience many Latin traditions and customs throughout my life,” he said. “I think what is most unique about my culture is the variety of food that I get to try whenever we have a family get-together,” he said.
“My favorite foods have to be pasteles, pastelillos and bacalao. Now that my family has many new members, Latin and non-Latin, from all walks of life, our food has always been a great way to bridge those cultures together.”
One of the reasons that Camargo loves working at Broward Health is the sense of accomplishment that he experiences every day.
“Whether it’s rebuilding a monitor, assisting an anesthesiologist in surgery, or a nurse in ICU, the problems change from day to day, but the feeling of accomplishment is always the same,” he said.
Elena Murarr is a Health Information Management supervisor at Broward Health Imperial Point who has worked at Broward Health for the past six years.
“At Broward Health, every day is special. I love my job, what I do, and sharing with my co-workers. They are my second family,” she said. “I like to help patients, especially those who are facing challenges with technology.”
Born in Guatemala, Murarr is proud of her beautiful, colorful heritage.
“I’m proud to represent both the Spaniard and Mayan heritage,” she said. “Twenty years ago, I came to this beautiful country, the land of opportunities. As a Latina, the richness of flavor in our meals, our traditions, and our dances and movements makes us unique in the world, and it all runs through our veins.”
“We highly value family and contribute a lot to society,” Murarr said. “I’m proud to be Guatemalan, to come from one of the smallest countries in Central America, which is full of colors and traditions. We are multilingual, we have 22 dialects, plus the Spanish language,” she said.
“In this picture, I am wearing one of the traditional suits, this one is from my favorite place Panajachel, Atitlan, Guatemala.”
Cheryl Kamarauskas, regional director of strategic development and community relations at Broward Health Coral Springs, describes the beauty of her Ecuadorian heritage.
“Ecuador has many unique regions for being a smaller country,” she said. “There are coastal areas, highlands, jungles and islands located west of the mainland called the Galapagos Islands. My family is from the coastal region, where we enjoy tropical climates and delectable seafood dishes, but you can also travel for a few hours and enjoy the gorgeous mountain views of the highland region.”
Kamarauskas has been with Broward Health family for the past four years. She shared her best memory of working for the healthcare system.
“My most memorable moment at Broward Health was walking with the team in the annual City of Coral Springs Holiday Parade and hearing the community graciously thanking the hospital for the exceptional service we provide,” Kamarauskas said. “It was truly a memorable moment hearing the community we serve commending the dedication and care that our physicians and employees provide to our patients every day.”
Luiz Vazquez joined Broward Health a year ago as an associate chief financial officer at Broward Health Medical Center.
Vazquez said one of his most memorable moments at Broward Health was when his own family members were in need of care and he experienced the incredible dedication and compassion of our caregivers.
“My most memorable moment was when there was an unfortunate event that caused family members of mine to be airlifted to our hospital,” he said. “It was a tragic experience, but the love and support that I received from caretakers and colleagues alike, was something that I will never forget. It was just an incredible example of what our team does on a day-to-day basis and the impact we have on our patients and families.”
When it comes to his culture, one unique aspect, he said, is Noche Buena.
“I come from a very culturally diverse, large family,” Vazquez said. “One of my favorite unique events is when our entire family gets together for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and cooks a whole pig. It’s a full day of festivities filled with tons of food, dancing, laughter and joy.”
Cristina Padredi Leite
Cristina Padredi Leite has been a medical technologist at Broward Health North’s lab for the past 20 years.
Broward Health was Padredi Leite’s first job when she came to the United States from Brazil.
“The day I was hired as a full-time technologist at Broward Health North was my first full-time job since coming to this country,” she said. “I was very happy and proud, feeling comfortable like I had come home.”
When it comes to her Brazilian culture, Padredi Leite highlighted resiliency.
“Being Brazilian, we are very resilient people handling economic and daily difficulties,” Padredi Leite said. “In spite of obstacles, we remain happy by being surrounded with family and friends.”
Vanessa Morales has served as a senior education technology specialist at Broward Health Corporate for the past 11 years. She said the holidays are a very special time in her native Puerto Rico.
“There’s nothing like Las Navidades (Christmas Holiday) in Puerto Rico!” Morales said. “From our delicious food, cocktails (Coquito!), and parrandas (strolling carolers), to a very lengthy celebration that starts on Thanksgiving Day and ends a week after Three Kings Day (Epiphany) on January 6. We do not take down our Christmas decorations until mid-January.”
When it comes to memorable events at work, Morales’ most memorable moment at Broward Health was celebrating a decade of service with her fellow colleagues.
For the past 13 years, Elizabeth Velez has served as an Early Steps supervisor at Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center. Growing up bilingual in a Puerto Rican family, she shared the importance of language and how it can serve as a bridge between people.
“My culture is unique to me because I grew up bilingual with a strong influence of U.S. culture,” Velez said. “Both my parents are of Puerto Rican descent, so I am 100% Puerto Rican. However, I am not only Puerto Rican as I was born stateside and not on the island.”
“I grew up with a lot of U.S. influence in my household while learning to be Puerto Rican in school. I always hope to be a bridge to people from both sides of this divide in our society and to be a point of contact between English and Spanish-speaking cultures,” she said.
“Each language is a way to see the world, a perspective so we can see each other more clearly. This is a unique aspect of my personal culture. As a citizen of the planet, to see every person and sentient being as one and to continue to contribute to that oneness.”
John Giraldo, AART, has been the lead shift nuclear medicine technologist at Broward Health Coral Springs for the past 31 years.
Giraldo shared one of his most memorable moments working for the health system: “In 2016, the Nuclear Medicine Department moved to the outpatient area. It was a new department with new cameras that were given to us. I was very proud of my department and team and what we have to offer our community.”
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Giraldo said these values are most important to him: “Family, unity, teamwork and commitment are very important values in my culture.”
Melissa Rosario-Rivera is a pharmacy reimbursement specialist for Broward Health Ambulatory Services. She’s been with Broward Health for 16 years.
One of the things Rosario-Rivera loves most about her culture is the delicious cuisine, she said.
“We have a variety of foods that are rich in flavor and tradition,” Rosario-Rivera said. “Some of my favorites are Sancocho, pork, rice and peas.”
When it comes to her work, she said: “Over the past 16 years, there have been countless memorable moments. The thing that I love and reflect on the most is the fact that we always treated each other like family.”
Yamile “Yami” Cleter
Yamile “Yami” Cleter is a registered nurse at Broward Health North.
She said she loves the friendly and welcoming energy of her culture.
Yami recently joined Broward Health in June and said she’s proud to be a part of some exciting changes in trauma services to better serve our patients. “I’ve been a part of the trauma move to another floor and creating a trauma ICU,” Cleter said.
“This allows us to create a stronger service line, with the resources patients need to better serve our trauma population,” she said. “It has been exciting working along incredible people from different services with the most amazing teamwork and commitment to patient care and safety.”
David Uro joined Broward Health four months ago as a human resources business partner at Broward Health Medical Center.
Uro said he loves the fun and family-oriented values of his culture. When it comes to his day job, Uro reflects on a recent event as being memorable. “One memorable moment is when I met a 45-year employee at our service awards gala, which illustrated the incredible dedication and commitment of our team.”