Patient Care Executive retires from 44-year nursing career Patricia Vasquez, MSN/MHA,BSN, RN

In the still darkness of her hospital room, under the canopy of an oxygen tent, Patricia Vasquez, then a child of 11, grabbed as much air as her little lungs could manage. The beeps of medical equipment filled the spaces between her shallow breaths. She was scared. Then, her nurse entered her room and approached the bedside. With a lift of the tent and a gentle touch of her hand, the nurse’s presence calmed her anxiety.

“Is everything okay?” the nurse asked with a soothing tone, “Are you alright? We’re here with you.”

This care and reassurance during Vasquez’s childhood bouts with asthma comforted her and sparked a lifelong ambition. “I was so impressed with the nurses… I wanted to be one of them,” Vasquez reflects, her admiration unwavering even decades later.

Patient Care Executive Patricia Vazquez, MSN/MHA,BSN, RN at her retirement celebration

Patient Care Executive Patricia Vasquez, MSN/MHA,BSN, RN

In high school, Vasquez decided that she wanted to be a nurse. However, her path was not without hurdles. In 1974, at just 18 and one year into nursing school, she was diagnosed with cancer in her leg and was forced to take a hiatus from school to get treatment. Yet, amidst her cancer treatment, her mother, Eloise Valdez, gave her strength. “My strength came from my mother,” Vasquez admits with gratitude.

Beating cancer, Vasquez finished nursing school in 1978 and began her nursing career at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield. The establishment resonated with her desire for community-centric care, and she learned the art of direct communication – a skill crucial to inspiring and guiding a team.

She moved to Las Vegas in 1996 to be closer to family, eventually stepping into the director role at St. Rose Sienna Hospital under Dignity Health. Although Vasquez was an established nurse, she wanted to advance into more senior leadership positions. So she returned to school as an older student to secure her bachelor’s degree and, encouraged by her mentor Rhoda Vincent, her master’s degree.

In 2010, Vasquez’s nursing journey brought her back to California and, ultimately, to Adventist Health White Memorial in 2014. It was here, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, that she stepped into the role of Patient Care Executive in 2020.

“It was challenging,” Vasquez concedes. “But what I admire about White is it was a team approach. All hospital leadership, directors, managers, together figuring this out and how we would maneuver through this.”

This October, Vasquez retired from Adventist Health White Memorial, satisfied knowing she had achieved her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and helping people.

Her 44-year nursing career is a reminder that at the core of healthcare is human connection, the same connection that a team of nurses made with an 11-year-old girl who dreamed of caring for people.

Reflecting on her time with Adventist Health White Memorial, Vasquez shares a poignant thought: “I wish I had come here sooner. But God led me in a different way. I was thinking about that the other day. It is satisfying. This is where I ended my career. “

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