2019 SCHA Awards
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Position: Residential Care Manager
Organization: Brand New Day HMO
List your nominee's experience in Senior Care.
Cristina Quezada is the poster child for how dedicated immigrants can better their lives and be a great asset to the community. She came to the United States from Guatemala at the age of 3, and it wasn’t an easy transition. Her parents came 2 years before to find work and establish a home for their 3 children, of whom Cristina is the baby. They had to leave them with their aunt and uncle, so when Cristina got here, she didn’t even know them. Soon, however, everything was as it should be, and Cristina was going to work with her mom every day.
Cristina is a remarkable young woman. At the age of 4, she was helping her mom care for a woman with Alzheimer’s. At the age of 14, she was going to work with her mom as a volunteer at an assisted living community in Yorba Linda, AND babysitting to earn money. At 17, she was hired as a receptionist at that same community. She went into her senior year with 1,500 volunteer hours, earning the coveted prime parking spot at her high school.
Upon graduating at 18, she transferred to a sister facility as a caregiver. Within 3 months, she had worked her way up to lead-caregiver, and then was appointed to train others in dementia caregiving and other subjects. She continued her climb and worked in other communities and other departments until she made a full circle and came back to the first assisted living community as their Sales & Marketing Director.
Since then, Cristina has continued to demonstrate an amazing work ethic, and has eventually found her place at Brand New Day as their Residential Care Sales Manager, helping this new company to grow and enhance the client experience at assisted living communities in the region.
Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
Cristina told us a story that has stayed in her heart and points to what kind of hero she is. A gentleman, we’ll call him Pat, moved into one of the residential facilities where she worked some years ago. He moved in with his wife, who had dementia. She told us they were like the couple in the movie, The Notebook. They were Irish, and he loved to sing to his wife and Cristina would come and sing with them – their favorite song was Wild Irish Rose. Soon, the wife had to move to the memory care unit and then passed away a while later.
Cristina moved to another company, but kept in touch with Pat. She found out some time later that he had developed a swallowing disorder and had to be put on a feeding tube and transferred to a skilled nursing facility. He soon became very depressed and went downhill fast; so fast, that he was put on hospice.
Then Cristina got a call from a friend that Pat wasn’t expected to live more than a day or so, and he had no one with him – no other family or friends. Cristina could not let him be alone, so she immediately went to his bedside, and began singing his favorite hymns, holding his hand and talking to him. When she left that night, she thought she’d seen him for the last time, but he held on through the night, and when she checked the next day, he was still there – still alone. So, she went back, sang to him some more, and told him it was OK to let go. Then she sang the song she’d saved for last – Wild Irish Rose. As she came to the end of the song, he let go and peacefully went to be with his wife.
Cristina told us, “I feel it’s an honor and privilege to be with people at their highest point of need.” The healthcare industry is lucky to have Cristina!