For the latter half of September and the first half of October, we’re spotlighting some of our amazing caregivers each week that are part of the Hispanic/Latinx community and sharing what Hispanic Heritage month means to them.
Hispanic Heritage Month is way to promote the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic-Americans — specifically, those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Check in each week to see the newest caregiver spotlight!
Silvia Kennedy is proud of her heritage and embraces her identity as a Latina every day. She also holds proud her role as a trusted member of her community, that she is not only a part of, but serves.
Just a month ago, Silvia joined Swedish’s developing Cultural Navigator team, focused on programs that address health equity and barriers within our surrounding communities. She says the work they are doing is based on a trust they develop as being members of the neighborhoods and communities that Swedish is looking to serve.
And that couldn’t be more accurate for Silvia, who is driven by a vision to ensure everyone has access to health resources and advances. The vision is that families don’t lose hope and get lost within the healthcare system, and instead see windows of opportunity.
“I have seen so much pain and struggles and I really want to be part of the leaders focusing on changing that narrative,” Silvia says.
Silvia joins Swedish with over 10 years of experience in health navigation for vulnerable populations in the Puget Sound area. She’s also on the boards of the Latinx Executive Health Board and the King County Promotores Network, and the COVID-19 Director for Latinos Promoting Good Health.
Hispanic Heritage month for Silvia means celebrating and recognizing the presence of Latinx culture in our society, as well as the contributions and accomplishments of those who came before us.
“I think that times are shifting and that it’s good to see our cultures being embraced by many in the U.S.,” she says. “I feel proud of where I came from.”
Silvia is the only member of her family living in the U.S., the rest our in Mexico. She upholds traditions to feel connected to her family- one of her favorites is celebrating Día de Muertos with her husband, kids, and friends. She has an altar on her porch honoring those who are no longer with us and cherishes the day as a chance to share more about her background and culture with those she loves. She says embracing the traditions also helps her stay grounded to who she is.
Some of the biggest challenges she’s seen Latinx families face when navigating healthcare are resources not being offered in their language, difficulty with transportation to resources, resources not being promoted in an effective cross-cultural way, and even negative experiences of racism at those resources, keeping families from returning to that care. With those challenges in mind, Silvia is part of a team of Cultural Navigators that are working to cater a regional health program aimed at identifying specific neighborhoods that need delivered care that is affordable and accessible for residents in that community.
Everyone has been extremely welcoming so far at Swedish, Silvia says, and she’s excited to start doing work within clinics, hospitals, and the greater community to bring accessible healthcare closer to the patients who need it most.
“Something I’ve found, and really enjoyed, is the cross-collaboration among teams towards this same goal, that’s something I love seeing and thought was almost impossible to have inside of a health system (like Swedish) because of the complexity of the health system,” Silvia says.
When not building partnerships and health equity, Silvia is a lover of cooking and exploring a variety of cultural dishes, with a sustainable vegan diet. She’s also become an avid sourdough-bread baker during the pandemic.
Sara Davila-Candelario is a senior quality program manager for the Quality Division at Swedish. In September she will be celebrating 2 years with Swedish and as she says, “time flies when you are having fun.” Her role supports quality improvement programs with the goal of standardizing care delivery, increasing reliability and supporting quality management at Swedish.
As Program Managers, Sara explained how it’s all about the patient, their experience and their outcomes. The quality division incorporates both the patient and caregivers’ voices in the design of programs and services.
Sara finds her role very rewarding and loves how it provides her the opportunity to collaborate with staff in different roles, different backgrounds and different perspectives, resulting in the design of stronger quality interventions. “I work with a wonderful team of quality professionals, and they inspire me to be my best.”
Similar to how Sara embraces diversity in her day-to-day role, Sara believes Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate diversity of Hispanic and Latinx communities and to educate others while honoring the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans.
“This month allows us to reflect on how much we have in common with other communities, that we need to be more open and inclusive, and how important it is that we lock arms to achieve justice and equity for those who have been left out.”
Sara’s ability to embrace diversity at work allows her to provide the highest quality of care. Sara’s advice for anyone looking for motivation is to go back to the reason you chose to do what you are doing and use that as inspiration to motivate yourself in hard times. And as much as possible take care of both of your mental and physical health. Then you will be able in a better position to take care of your teammates and patients.