For the month of October, we’re spotlighting some of our amazing caregivers each week that are part of the Filipino American community and sharing what Filipino American month means to them.
Check in each week to see the newest caregiver spotlight!
Elma Lazo is the Nutrition Services retail lead at Swedish Cherry Hill. It was in February 1995 when she immigrated to the U.S. with her sisters, leaving her teaching career behind.
When asked about Filipino American History month, she shared, “As we celebrate every year in the month of October, we want our history to be recognized and our stories to be told. Thank God I'm a Filipino. (T.G.I.F.)”
Elma is proud to be Filipino, she emphasizes how important it is to celebrate this month and to see herself and her co-workers of similar heritage develop professionally.
“This month serves as a reminder to take time to reflect on our roots, remember our ancestors and take opportunities to incorporate our culture in our everyday lives and see the impact Filipinos have made in our systems, both culinary and health care.”
From starting as a diet clerk in 1995 then being appointed the Nutrition Services lead once Swedish affiliated with Providence, merged Elma has experienced personal and professional growth with each new leadership task and challenge.
“Being a Nutrition Services lead is very challenging and rewarding at the same time, but in my heart, I know that when I go to work each day that I make a big difference!”
Thank you for all your hard work, and for being so dedicated to supporting people’s nutrition!
Dr. Marlon Balauag
This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Filipino American movement. You may not know its inception took place in Washington when a group of young Filipino Americans held a gathering called the Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention in Seattle.
Knowing history like this is important to our nation, believes Dr. Marlon Balauag, a family medicine doctor at Mill Creek Primary Family Care, a part of Swedish Medical Group (SMG).
“(The U.S.) we’re a nation of immigrants. We need to learn more about our peoples’ stories in the past and recognize their contributions to our society,” says Dr. Balauag.
As a Filipino American, he said he was raised in a culture of hospitality, caring for others and devoting yourself to your community, which brought him to the medical field. He graduated medical school in the Philippines, eventually moving to the U.S. to start his practice.
“There’s a lot of hard work and patience that goes into not just being an immigrant but an international graduate. Personally, for me, there were many hurdles to be able to come here and practice medicine. My advice is to keep focused on what your dreams are, and putting your heart into it,” he says.
Following a few years at a different clinic, a previous connection with a few Swedish Edmonds specialists led to Dr. Balauag joining the Mill Creek team in 2013. He sees patients of all ages, from a newborn to a 90-year-old. As a physician in our northernmost Swedish clinic, Dr. Balauag says he sees Mill Creek as a diverse microcosm of Seattle, with many folks who work in Seattle or Bellevue living in this suburban area. Currently the Mill Creek campus has been advancing in its specialty care options, to better support access to their community who want to receive all their care at their neighborhood clinic.
As a primary care physician, the most rewarding fact for him is making a difference in a person’s health and leading them to a healthier version of themselves. As a primary care physician, he focuses with his patients on the mantra “Prevention is better than cure,” trying to help patients stay ahead of their health.
“As a family practitioner, I practice a full breadth of medicine. Besides preventative care and chronic disease management, I also do a lot of procedures. It’s part of the reason I enjoy doing my work, I get to do a variety of things on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Balauag says.
When not working at Mill Creek, Dr. Balauag spends his time with his wife and three kids, who have been raised in and love the Pacific Northwest, as well as his two sisters and parents. When not in a pandemic, he also loves to congregate with other Filipino Americans in his community and celebrate various holidays with food and laughter.
Thank you, Dr. Balauag, for your wonderful work!
We all come from somewhere, food brings us together, and we are more alike than different.
Those are just some of the lessons Florence “Flo” Curtis, Swedish Senior Executive Assistant, learned from her parents.
This Filipino American History Month, Flo reflects on her parents and the values they taught her. Her mother and aunt trained as nurses in the Philippines before moving to the U.S. Her mother grew up in a small town that took three boats to get to from Manila, a 12-hour journey.
“It shows how a lot of Filipino Americans came from such small beginnings,” Flo says. “It’s this generational thing where they had to go through so much to come here to the U.S.”
Flo’s personality rolls seamlessly into her work at Swedish, as a lifelong helper and finding joy in being around others. As Senior Executive Assistant, Flo supports Chief Quality Officer Renee Rassilyer-Bomers and Chief Communications Officer Mona Locke. Much of her work includes calendar support, coordinating meetings and schedules.
“Most people don’t see the amount of work it takes to bring everyone together, especially at an executive level,” Flo says. “I want to make sure my executive is able to have time for their schedule, that they’re prepared for what it will include and that they’re being efficient. It’s one less thing for them to worry about.”
Flo has worked at Swedish for almost eight years, starting as an administrative assistant with Swedish Medical Group, progressing her way up to where she is now. One of the most rewarding parts of her role is that she’s had the honor to help coordinate the start of some incredibly important programs at Swedish, such as our DEI Committee, Human Trafficking subcommittee, The Patient-Family Advisory Council, the Working Moms Caregiver Resource Group, launching a Caring Reliably training program and learning how to provide analytics support.
She also loves getting to serve our community. She’s actively involved in Swedish’s volunteer opportunities for our caregivers, including supporting vaccine clinics at Seattle University and Lumen Field earlier this year. When not working or volunteering her time, Flo enjoys watching the Mariners with her husband and going to dim sum with friends.
Thank you, Flo, for all the wonderful work you do!