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Phoenix nurses find integral role in healthcare and communicating with others in Spanish-speaking population

A group of Hispanic nurses takes on an integral role in caring for under-served communities during COVID-19.

PHOENIX — More than 390,000 Hispanic health care workers represent 17% of the United States health workforce, according to New American Economy

Their contributions help fill critical workforce gaps in labor short industries, such as healthcare.

Felipe Santoyo-Cuellar is a registered nurse in Phoenix and always knew healthcare was going to be an important part of his life.

“A lot of my older siblings were born in the village," he said. "I was the only one out of six that was born at an actual hospital."

His family immigrated from Guanajuato, Mexico to the U.S. in 1995. Access to healthcare was one of the biggest factors that played a role in his family relocating.

And after losing his sister to kidney disease, it was clear that the medical field was his calling.

“It was really important for me that I strive to make a difference in healthcare especially for the Spanish-speaking populations,” said Santoyo-Cuellar.

He realized that there was a great need in the community.

“There’s actually quite a small amount of Hispanic nurses in the field and being able to connect and communicate with others like me has always been a dream of mine,” said the RN.

But he’s not the only one.

Lyda Velez, President-Elect of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, Phoenix Chapter agrees.

“That impact of us being able to communicate to provide the support to even greater agencies and businesses make us an important aspect of healthcare in the Valley," she said.

So important that a group was formed to support these nurses.

“It was initiated by two wonderful nurses who believed we needed to have more Hispanic representation,” Velez said.

NAHN not only recruits Hispanic nurses but also creates a sense of community and friendship for them. Never has that been more needed than during the pandemic.

“I think it has been so difficult in every level. Not only is the ICU nurse stressed out taking care of (others) being locked in hooded bunny suits multi-levels of gloves on and every level of nursing,” said Velez.

But together, these nurses have made a difference and saved lives – during this unprecedented time.

“Being a part of this family has just been amazing,” said Santoyo-Cuellar.

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