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Los Angeles in The News

Hispanic Heritage Month Profile in Medical Excellence: Ana Mainit, Registered Nurse, East LA Medical Offices

Hello, my name is Ana Mainit, and I was born in East Los Angeles, California at the Santa Marta Hospital in Los Angeles on Humphreys Avenue. My parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico. I grew up in East Los Angeles until the age of 21 when I moved to Montebello. I did not move around too much because my parents were fortunate enough to buy their first home when I was 5 years old, so I was very lucky that I grew up in that home and spent many wonderful years there with my brother.


 


My journey to nursing started with me being a medical assistant, which I really enjoyed. I attended nursing school at the East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park in 2000, and then completed my bachelor’s in nursing in 2018. I wanted to do more with my life in nursing and to work in Labor and Delivery which I first did when I finished nursing school, but I also wanted to show my daughter that you can continue going through school even though I was a single parent at the time. I have stayed in nursing because I enjoy teaching patients about their health.

I joined Kaiser Permanente on July 7, 2003, that same day I joined the East Los Angeles MOB. I consider my passion is staying healthy and that I learned from my father. And I have stayed in East Los Angeles because it feels like home, I grew up in this community and feel I can understand the patients that come into our clinic. I get my motivation from my family which drives my goal and mission for our patients, which is to see our patients live healthier lives, and to help our patients understand diabetes a little better.

I am married to a wonderful man, who is also a Registered Nurse and understands me when I come home wanting to talk about work, which he does also. I have one daughter which is all I need because she is my world! My hobbies include trying new foods, and I enjoy thrift shopping. And lastly, my most memorable moments growing up were growing up in East Los Angeles with my brother and parents. Particularly when our parents would take my brother and I to the beach — we would fly a kite or go fishing.

My most memorable time working in our Kaiser East Los Angeles clinic is seeing much change and progress over the past 18 years that I have been here. I have also enjoyed many gatherings with my co-workers and wonderful food together!

Hispanic Heritage Month Profile in Medical Excellence: Elizabeth Vazquez, RN, Cardiac Operating Room Nurse

My name is Elizabeth Vazquez, and I was born in Jalisco,  Mexico. I came to the United States as a child. As a teenager my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes, and I was asked to translate instructions on dosing and administration of the insulin she was prescribed. I became interested in helping her and advocating for her when it came to communication barriers and the disparities she was experiencing with her diagnosis.  At some point I realized that I lived in a household where a low level of healthcare literacy existed, as it does in many Hispanic households. The minimal medical experiences that I had at that time piqued my interest in taking steps toward a healthcare related career.



I started in the medical field as a surgical technologist, and then I saw how nurses played a great part in the care and outcomes of patients. This made me want to return to school to acquire a nursing degree.  The road to becoming a nurse was not easy, but after some time I finished nursing school and have now been a Registered Nurse for 15 years. I have been at KP LAMC for 11 years and began in the Outpatient Surgery Department and then made the transition to Cardiac Surgery Operating Room (CVOR) 6 years ago. Working in a specialty department is rewarding, especially because I feel I do make a difference in patients’ lives. My contribution to improving care at LAMC has been to participate as Magnet champion and be lead of my departments Coordinating nursing council to help with improved nursing practices.

I think it is important to represent the Latin/Hispanic community as a nurse because I can be a better provider of culturally sensitive care to my patients. Because of my background, I understand Hispanic patients’ fears, beliefs, barriers, traditions, and practices that can affect their health.  I am also Spanish speaking which helps patients feel more comfortable especially when going into surgery which is a scary place to be as a patient. Every day, I see the effects of coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension in our Hispanic patient population and I hope to be able to continue to help improve the health of my patients. I love my job and I love what I do. I am proud to have taken the step towards a meaningful healthcare career where I can help others, especially those that are part of vulnerable Hispanic population.

My favorite thing to do is hike and be outdoors whenever possible. I enjoy the challenge of jogging/running and signing up for half marathons a few times per year. I like to destress by including cardio workouts at least 3 times per week. Exercise is important to me since I do work in cardiac surgery where I get to see the effects of coronary artery disease firsthand. I enjoy traditional, Mexican food, music, and culture.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month Profile in Medical Excellence: Kimberly Willard, MD, Pediatrician, East LA Medical Offices

Dr. Willard is a Los Angeles area native and grew up in Hacienda Heights, then moved across town to complete her undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in Latin American studies at UCLA. Afterwards, she taught high school in the Los Angeles area for a couple of years before moving halfway across the country to Kansas City, where she earned her medical degree from the University of Kansas in 2010. “As much as I loved the people and the Kansas City barbecue, I knew that I wanted to come home eventually — so I was ecstatic to have my internship and residency at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.”


  


After completing her training at LAMC in 2013, Dr. Willard worked in private practice for 2 ½ years prior to coming back to Kaiser Permanente LAMC as an attending in 2016. As a first-generation physician and college graduate, and as the daughter of an immigrant from Costa Rica, Dr. Willard learned firsthand the importance of providing culturally competent healthcare. Many of her family members only spoke Spanish and had a hard time navigating the healthcare system in the United States. Ironically, her family first moved to East LA when they came to the United States, which is where she now practices pediatrics.

Dr. Willard is passionate about addressing healthcare disparities, and its a major point of clinical interest for her. As such, she takes pride in not only being able to deliver care to her patients in Spanish, but also that she gets to serve as a role model to her patients. “I never had any physicians who looked like me when I was growing up, so hopefully this will make a healthcare career seem more attainable to my pediatric patients.” Currently, Dr. Willard serves as a co-lead for the Hippocrates Circle at Griffith Middle School and is a mentor in the UCLA Latino Alumni Association. Both organizations serve to empower and encourage talented youth from underrepresented background to pursue their dreams.

When Dr. Willard is not working taking care of patients in east LA, she travels and volunteers her time and skills as a pediatrician with Operation Smile. Before the pandemic began, she managed patients in Madagascar, Morocco, Paraguay and Mexico.

For more information on volunteering with Operation Smile: operationsmile.org or the Kaiser Permanente Hippocrates Circle: hippocratescircle.kaiserpermanente.org

Prevention & wellness

Prevention is about staying healthy, and preventing or delaying disease. Wellness is living your best life. Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles is here to help you stay healthy and live your best life. There are many things you can do to take an active role in your prevention plan to stay healthy and thrive through all stages of life.