Spotlight: Cristina Hernandez, TC Skilled

Checking her list

Turn the computer on, then check in with “the boss,” Deb Allen in Twin Cities Skilled. Another check-in with “the other boss,” Donna Smith in HR. Pull up Outlook and check Tim’s schedule. Check Barb’s schedule. Make sure there’s enough paper, water, plastic silverware, pens, and post-its. Check the main fax. Sit down and check Corporate voicemail. Check email. Look for IT inventory to check in or check out. How much checking can one person do in a day! And it’s only been 15 minutes.

This is the beginning of a typical weekday for Cristina Hernandez, Office Assistant at HealthStar’s Corporate and Twin Cities Skilled office. She keeps us all organized, on-time, and well-stocked with legal pads. She has a great sense of humor and loves practical jokes, but be warned; if you pick on her way of eating fried rice, one grain at a time while picking all of the vegetables out, you might upset her. She does have her sensitive side.

A little history

Cristina started at HealthStar in June of 2015. She worked as a HMK/HHA/PCA for the Minneapolis South office on Franklin, and she provided administrative support to the office between visits. In October of the same year, she applied for a position at the Corporate office. Corporate snapped her up before the ink dried on her application.

Cristina has been a great addition to the Corporate team, and is now working most often with the Twin Cities Skilled team. There is a lot to love about Cristina; just ask her. She’s not shy about her talents and will tell you the same. She has three unique and special talents, though, that make her really stand out from the crowd. Cristina, the HealthStar Spotlight’s on you! Let’s see what makes you shine!

Love yourself, first!

Cristina is very confident and self-assured. This makes her a great fit at the front desk, because she doesn’t shy away from meeting new people, and she is very comfortable in new situations. Cristina easily befriends any person in her path. She is charismatic and speaks her mind, but her sense of humor and kindness help to temper her strong personality.

Cristina can liven up a dark day, and she uses that skill to help motivate the Corporate and Skilled teams, from the lowest member right up to the very top. We have all witnessed the effect of her motivational skills on Tim Lively (owner/CEO). Only Barb Jezorski, Executive Director, can compete with Cristina when it comes to motivating power. When Barb and Cristina combine forces, Tim stays on schedule, on time, and on target! Corporate staff love it, because without Cristina, we wind up playing “oh where oh where has my boss’s boss gone.” It’s a lovely tune, but when you’re trying to plan your day, it can be a challenge. We like Cristina’s way much better.

Tell us a story

My personal favorite thing about Cristina is that she is an amazing source of information about Latino culture, and she’s a captivating storyteller. It is fun to learn about her Puerto-Rican background! I love when she tells us about the sights, the smells, and the sounds of Puerto Rico. I especially like learning about the food that Cristina’s family used to cook for her when she was growing up. Cristina is also willing to give me tips about speaking Spanish. She’s not afraid to correct my grammar or pronunciation (she’s brutally honest, have I mentioned that?). I have also learned this very important lesson from Cristina: just because two people might both speak Spanish, they don’t necessarily speak it the same way, or share the same cultural background. It is very interesting to learn of the many differences between Spanish-speaking cultures!

Cristina sometimes provides backup to the lovely and talented Nilda Garcia, Program Manager of Sagrado Corazón. Thank goodness for them both, because according to Cristina, my Spanish skills are not quite ready for prime time. HealthStar’s Spanish-speaking Clients might not be as patient as Nilda and Cristina when I take 5 minutes to think of the right word for Cucumber. (By the way, Concombre is French, not Spanish. You can guess who corrected me on that…)

But how are you feeling, really?

This is a special skill that I really admire in Cristina. She knows how to read people. She can be the most caring and patient person, if that’s what you need her to be. But in a heartbeat, she can turn on a fiery personality and liven things up with her high energy and flair. She takes the time to really listen to our Clients’ needs, making each Client feel like there is nothing else going on in the world. Clients would never know that she is also being pulled by multiple departments to help with their workloads. Cristina’s honest and open communication style sets people at ease in difficult situations. Most of all, she is passionate about meeting our Clients’ needs, whether it means translating at visits, providing direct care with grace and a gentle touch, or just listening and being compassionate when someone calls with an issue.

Family Connections

Some fun facts about Cristina’s family: Cristina’s mom, Marisol, has also worked at HealthStar. She provided HHA service out of the Minneapolis South office starting in 2011, and she reigned supreme as temporary queen of Corporate file retention in 2018. She is our favorite employee mom, because she makes the most amazing cakes. We miss you, Marisol – please come and visit soon!

There is another family connection, too. Cristina’s first experience with home care was when her brother, Jomar, received home care services through another agency. This was several years before Cristina joined HealthStar, and showed Cristina the impact that home care services make! Growing up with Jomar, with her family supporting his unique needs, Cristina developed the patience and compassion that make her such a great fit at HealthStar. Jomar is doing great and now lives in his own place. We all joined Cristina in celebrating his increasing independence, and we always enjoy hearing about his progress!

HealthStar Needs You, Cristina!

Corporate wouldn’t be the same without Cristina. I know, because I was here before she joined the team. It was a dark time, and we certainly don’t want to go back! Cristina has big shoes to fill, but the great thing is, she has big feet, so we never have to worry. She handles all her tasks with determination, and she keeps her sense of humor handy when things get tough. She’s a critical piece of the Corporate team!

Want to know more about what it’s like to work at Corporate? Check out our other articles and see which positions we’re hiring for today!

Footnote:

After reviewing this article, Cristina was disappointed that I didn’t discuss her amazing video editing skills. This is a unique talent, but it doesn’t seem to fit into any of the three very personal talent areas that I have clearly outlined above. Instead of adding a fourth talent category just for video editing, I told her that I would add a footnote. Cristina, I sincerely hope that you are now satisfied with this article. I don’t want to upset you, like that time I picked on your rice eating style.

Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar

HealthStar Home Health helps the populations we serve by identifying and focusing on prevalent health conditions such as high rates of heart disease or diabetes in specific communities. Responding to requests from people in diverse communities, HealthStar develops culturally-relevant services while identifying barriers to care, and then launches culture-specific care and prevention programs. Today, our culturally-relevant programs offer services that address the unique needs of populations such as African Immigrant, African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and other communities. Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar addresses the cultural, ethnic and language needs of Minnesota’s Latino community. This month we caught up with Nilda Garcia, Sagrado Corazón program manager to learn more about this particular initiative.

Recognizing the Latino/Spanish presence in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area, HealthStar Home Health originally launched the Sagrado Corazón Salud en el Hogar program 10 years ago. It quickly became Minnesota’s premier provider and trusted source of home health services for the Latino community that effectively addresses the unique cultural, ethnic, and language needs of Latinos in Minnesota. Nilda Garcia, Program Manager, works with this and other HealthStar initiatives including Native American culture and English-speaking communities.

Re-Launch

Recently re-launched, the Sagrado Corazón program has more of a presence and built a trust within the community over the years while assessing the needs of this program in the Latino culture. A backbone in the Latino culture is family helping family. Through this program, HeathStar Home Health hires family members to take care of family who are aging, have become ill, or recovering from surgery. A tradition in the Latino culture is to care for family in their own homes and nursing homes or assisted living options are not typically pursued. We found that family members were having to take time off their regular job to care for their family, which in turn created challenges in their home life. As part of this program, HealthStar hires the family member and pays them to care for their loved ones.

Word of the program has been shared within the Latino community. HeathStar Home Health goes into community centers, attends local events, and visits churches to educate and spread the word about the program. If there is interest, HealthStar will work with the caregiver and their health care provider (if they already have one). There is a team of nurses who supports this program. Currently, there are only English-speaking nurses on the team, but Nilda goes with them to help translate. Nilda and the team of nurses will also do home visits, meet with caregivers, research insurance qualifications are available, background checks for caregiver, provide care training, attend to specific client needs and many other.

Insurance

Many in the Latino community do not have insurance coverage, Medicare or assistance. The professionals at HealthStar Home Health will walk the patient through the steps if there is insurance or help them understand if they can qualify.

Training

There is standard training for Minnesota state requirements. When conducting training, we begin with completing the state hiring forms. The caregiver will work with a nurse and go over topics such as:

  • HIPPA laws
  • Importance of hand washing and proper technique
  • Proper use of gloves
  • Transferring a patient
  • What to observe
  • What to report to nurses
  • Proper use of 9-1-1
  • Harassment

One important aspect of our training is our 24ECC program which is a formalized value-based cultural competence proprietary program: The 24 Expressions of Company Culture. These 24 expressions are aligned with HealthStar’s four chosen values of Servant Leadership, Empathy, Altruism, and Integrity. We review this culture and ensure the caregivers live it too. Learn more about our 24ECC employee program by watching this video:

Nilda has been with HealthStar Home Health for 10 years and has worked with some families just as long. She builds a close relationship with the families she works with, they even stop in the office to visit when they get lonely or want to chat. Nilda says “I see some patients starting with nothing. I am proud to know I am helping them get the services they need and assist with communication through translation. I love witnessing the roots of the family and their culture grow over the years I have known them.”

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various skilled nursing, skilled therapies, and mental health services available, as well as the cultural initiatives we offer, visit our website.

Choosing home healthcare services shouldn’t involve settling for care that doesn’t reflect the needs of the individual. With HealthStar Home Health you will always be in control of your care (or that of your loved one), and allow you to receive the services you need in conjunction with the attentiveness to cultural background that defines superior home health care. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.