Since 1968, Americans have observed National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) by celebrating the vast histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
In honor of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme, “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power and Progress in America,” six AdventHealth team members who identify as Hispanic and/or Latino shared how their personal experiences and diverse backgrounds contribute to creating a more inclusive care environment at AdventHealth.
"I know how important it is for someone to feel comfortable and understood.”
Carlos Martinez, MD, said he understands that being in an unfamiliar environment can come with a lot of adjustments, having moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. with his Cuban parents at a young age. As an emergency physician at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth facilities in the Great Lakes Region, Dr. Martinez draws from his experience to provide culturally competent patient care.
“I know how important it is for someone to feel comfortable and understood,” he said. “I want my patients to trust that I understand their cultural context, which is always crucial in the provision of whole-person care.”
Family values have also influenced Dr. Martinez’s work ethic and approach to care. Dr. Martinez attributes his career choice to his father’s passion for education and medicine. “My father put himself through college,” he said. “That really inspired me, and I want to be a great example to others like my father was to me.”
“Giving back is an important value in my family.”
Anya Wynn never met her grandmother but believes her grandmother’s legacy continues to persist in her family. In the 1960s, Wynn’s grandmother, Aminta, moved from Honduras to New York, where she served Hispanic and Latino communities through her dressmaking and upholstery business.
“I’ve heard stories of how Aminta treated her family and community with love,” said Wynn. “She’s inspired generations.”
Wynn grew up in a Spanish-speaking family who shared a love for soccer and supporting those in need. "My father used to send some of my toys to children in Honduras,” she said. “Whenever we visited, I saw children happily playing with them – a humbling reminder of the power of giving.”
Now, as a donor relations coordinator at AdventHealth West Florida Foundation, Wynn facilitates employee giving initiatives, which enable her to contribute to meeting the essential needs of team members.
“I'm proud of how my team serves with empathy and compassion.”
Jessy Castillo leads a diverse team of 15 individuals as manager of interpreter services for the AdventHealth Central Florida Division – South Region. She said her team’s impact on patients is a source of pride for her.
“Imagine how vulnerable a patient may feel when they speak a different language from that of their caregiver,” said Castillo. “It’s an honor to serve and contribute to providing whole-person care for diverse communities.”
Castillo is multilingual. As a Haitian native, she is fluent in Creole and French and recalls her childhood memories in Puerto Rico, where she learned to speak Spanish. She recounts the joy of continuing to experience new cultures through language, food and music even after moving to the U.S. mainland.
“I’ve enjoyed a rich learning experience throughout my journey,” she said. “Watching my children grow their mixed-culture families has been a joy.”
“I enjoy learning and sharing knowledge with others.”
When Carlos Eduardo Quintero Acevedo moved from Colombia to the U.S., he bonded with an American family who helped him to adapt to the new culture. He said the experience enabled him to learn English while he taught them Spanish.
“I became a part of their family,” said Quintero Acevedo. “In a twist of fate, their daughter traveled to Colombia years later and is married to a native.”
Quintero Acevedo believes culture plays an essential role in the delivery of whole-person care. As senior manager of collaboration and audiovisual engineering for AdventHealth Information Technology (AIT), he translates his cultural and life experiences into designing and supporting inclusive IT solutions for everyone.
“Having this perspective helps me to serve others better,” he said.
“Being open to change has been an important aspect of my growth.”
Elizabeth Marin-Rodriguez recalls migrating from Mexico to the U.S. as a young adult and finding her passion for ministry after attending a school mission trip.
Now a chaplain at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Kansas, Marin-Rodriguez believes her Mexican heritage enables her to connect with Spanish-speaking team members and patients on a deeper level. She is committed to using her experiences to help Spanish-speaking team members and patients feel heard, especially during challenging times.
“Language shouldn’t be a barrier in providing spiritual and other forms of care,” she said.
Marin-Rodriguez said she’s proud of Mexico’s global influence, especially through food. She always remembers her mother’s advice: “Wherever you go, don’t forget your roots.” That’s why her sash represented both the Mexican and American flags when she graduated from college.
“It marked both a symbol of honor of where I’ve come from and of gratitude for where I am now,” she said.
“I’m passionate about ensuring that everyone feels valued.”
Soledad Lopez Romero is the first college graduate in her Mexican family. She credits her parents for making education a priority while she was growing up.
"My parents have contributed to who I am today,” said Romero, an ER consumer access supervisor at AdventHealth Redmond in Georgia. “I remember they used to peek through my school's glass window to see if I knew how to raise my hand in class."
Now, Romero honors her parents by helping them translate paperwork and by assisting other Spanish-speaking patients at her facility.
She believes having the right mindset is essential for progress. Her love for dance – a cherished family tradition – helps her keep a positive outlook.
In the video above, Belem Solano, an interpreter at AdventHealth Hendersonville in North Carolina, shares her thoughts on how her personal experiences and diverse background contribute to the creation of a more inclusive care environment at AdventHealth.