Position: Director of Social Services
Organization: Mirada Hills Rehabilitation and Convalescent Hospital
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Teresa has been a Social Service Director at Mirada Hills Rehabilitation and Convalescent Hospital for nearly 12 years.
She went to Fullerton College right after high school and received my AA in Liberal Studies before transferring to UC Irvine to finish her undergrad degree. She graduated and received her B.A. in Social Ecology from UCI and was hired as Social Service Director at a skilled nursing facility out in West LA. While at UCI she had the opportunity to intern at an adult day care center in Huntington Beach where her love for assisting the elder population developed.
She would never have thought she would be working with the elderly but something kept drawing her to the HealthCare field. She wasn’t sure where she wanted to work but she knew that she wanted it to be a place that she could interact with the elderly.
She worked briefly in an acute hospital Hollywood but after a couple of months, she found that working at a skilled nursing facility SNF was where she wanted to be because she was able to develop relationships with the patients and their family.
She really enjoys working at Mirada Hills. There are some days of course where she wonders if she’s making a difference but as soon as she walks out of her office and speak to long-term residents, makes them smile and laugh, she knows it’s all well worth it. It reinforces that she is where she is supposed to be and doing what was meant for her to be doing.
Teresa has been a dedicated senior advocate for years. She remains humble, feels that it is part of her job to assist her patients with resources and expects no acknowledgment. She cares for her patients and always has their best interest at heart.
Why should this person be nominated
I came to know Teresa when I came to her office one day to share some resources that she could share her patients to prepare them for discharge. This was assistance with In-Home Care services provided Accredited Home Care. She asked a lot of questions and I could see that she wanted to be sure that she was recommending a service that was going to provide by a reputable company. Her patients trusted her recommendations and she did not want to point them in the wrong direction. She was advocating for families without them even knowing it. She wondered if these services were, in fact, something that they would benefit from.
It was soon after our meeting that her interest in helping others encouraged her to call me so that we can collaborate on developing a specific plan of care for her patient's transition to home.
At first, I felt that Teresa was a little guarded, then I realized it was because she was very protective of her patients and did not want anyone to take advantage of them. With time I got to know Teresa and noticed that she was a very dedicated and a humble person. She was determined to help her patients with anything she could.
As time went by, I got to know Teresa better and after having lunch one day, she shared more with me about herself and what drew her to the healthcare field.
She is the third out of five children that her mother Emilia and father Jesus Maldonado, were blessed with. She had a typical and happy childhood aside the fact that I didn’t know either of my grandparents. They were on their death beds, and although very young and doesn’t remember a lot of the details, she knows it touch her in a way that she believes that it was what attributed to her love of working with the elderly.
She shared a story of a male patient and his wife that she grew very close to. His wife would visit every other day and did so for the 9 years he resided at Mirada Hills. This was her routine, she’d visit with her husband but also visit with other patients and had developed a friendships over the years. Teresa saw true love among this couple and the love they shared with others. It touched her heart and felt that all seniors deserve this type of unconditional love and so she demonstrated and expressed it to her patients. Although she was there to help them, she felt that every patient has given her something to remember and loved learning about their lives and share their stories with her.
Her motto has become to treat others how you want to be treated. Be kind to one another and prioritize appropriately, family comes first. Her parents instilled in her how important it is to stay united and support one another.
She experienced this daily and although she took pride in her job and was compassionate about helping her patients, it wasn’t until she lost her own father last year, that she had a life changing experience.
His passing was the most devastating experience she experienced on a personal level and had no idea how it would impact her life. She did her job diligently and cared about her patients but it wasn’t until her father passed that she was able to completely and whole heartily understand the pain that every family struggles with in having to make decisions for the lives of their loved ones that are sick or dying. She has become more expressive and was able to feel an emotion that she tried to keep herself from feeling in order to protect herself from the hurt of losing a patient.
She now understands even more deeply the stress and pain that families go through on a daily basis and can identify with them and feels that she learns more from each of them and gives her a feeling of warmth to give back to those that are sometimes neglected.
It gives me great pleasure to nominate Teresa for the Outstanding Social Worker of the year. I believe that she deserves to be recognized for all her hard work, dedication and compassion that she demonstrates for seniors in her care.