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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Aug 2, 2018
We have great people with wonderful career stories who share the common purpose of helping others. Learning about the rich background of colleagues’ careers and successes inspires all of us.

Carson Garrett is a newly minted RN whom I first met in the early morning weekend hours at North Naples 6th floor, where she was an energetic and personable night-shift Clinical Tech studying with a colleague during a break.  When I asked about her career path, she shared that she had been a nurse’s aide in an out-patient Alzheimer’s facility for four years prior to coming to NCH.  She desired to be in a system where everyone was devoted to caring for patients. 


Erica Szczepkowski, one of three Associate Chief Nursing Officers, hired Carson when Erica was the manager of North Naples 6th floor.  Starting at NCH 15 years ago, Erica’s career developed rapidly from new nurse to unit leader, nurse educator, manager, director, and now senior leadership—always with competence, grace, and compassion. 


Lazaro Oliva Torres is a new RN who emigrated from Cuba where he was an anesthesiologist.  Now working with a mentor RN Marlon Williams, Lararo is a few weeks from finishing a twelve-week “internship.”  During this learning time, confidence builds, skills mature, and the art of nursing transfers from the experienced to the novice.  Lararo’s background is similar to many from other nations who seek a better life for their families and adapt professionally just to stay in the noble work of healthcare.


Chris Canter and Tracy Keith, both new RNs, were at the side of experienced ICU nurse Eddie Denson on different days on both campuses’ ICUs.  Eddie, who just a few years ago started as a volunteer at NCH, decided he liked healthcare.  He progressed from patient safety technician to care technician to floor nurse and now an ICU mentor.  Eddie will soon complete his nurse practitioner course—all the while with a “can do” attitude. 


Kristen Cooke, RN is the newest member of her immediate family to join the NCH team.  Father Steve, Director of the Cath Lab, has been with NCH for 33 years, brother Andrew, now an ICU nurse hired in 2014 after graduating from Florida Southwestern (FSW), and his wife Erika works in OPIS as a unit secretary, all help our system mightily.


Dwayne Craig, RN, after 32 years of law enforcement experience in New York City court, retrained at FSW and joined his wife, who worked for NCH as a LPN and then an RN and now is in home care.  After having a close family member with a serious illness, Dwayne was so impressed with nursing that he changed his career.  Dwayne amazingly matriculated at FSW while still working in NYC—a serious commute. 


Gelen Avila, a phlebotomist at our busy primary care office in the Medical Plaza, immigrated to America from Cuba, where she was a prima ballerina, via Russia and Cancun.  Now that Gelen has worked for NCH for over three months, she is planning to attend nursing school using our tuition reimbursement plan.


Thomas Fletcher, lead transporter, began his career at NCH in November 2016 after years as a security guard.  As he loves the healthcare profession and working with people, he is now in school to become an EMT.  His goal is to work in the Emergency Department at NCH.  He also utilized NCH’s wonderful tuition reimbursement.


Currently, we have seven RNs training to be critical care nurses and six training for the Emergency Department.  Behavioral health, OR, labor/delivery, and neonatal ICU have or will have new grads and fellowships.  We have hired 64 new grads so far this year with seven more coming in August.  Career development is good for individuals, great for patients, and superb for society.     


“These people’s characters and inherent traits come from their upbringing.  These characteristics are how they portray themselves when caring for our patients.  We can teach skills,” shared Lisa Fletcher, Manager of Nurse Residency Program.  Education helps learners, teachers, and patients live longer, happier, and healthier lives.   


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Allen Weiss, M.D.

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.