At the Our Lady of Resurrection Medical Center’s extended-care unit, it’s not uncommon to walk past a room and see Angela Gil braiding a patient’s hair or soaking someone’s feet. This year Gil won the hospital’s “Mission Effectiveness Award,” a recognition that brings attention to an employee’s superior performance in meeting the facility’s mission.
Recipients receive an honorary plaque, a savings bond and are able to see their photo added to the nurse’s Wall of Fame, a designated space outside the medical center’s cafeteria at Our Lady of Resurrection on the near Northwest Side.
Gil, a nursing assistant at the hospital for eight years and an Austin resident for 10, is especially known for going beyond the call of duty.
“I’m the kind of person that tries to do more than what’s expected of me,” she said. “I love my job, and I see myself as an instrument of God.” While taking vital signs, changing beds and dressing wounds is generally Gil’s assigned duties, she’s known to give sponge baths, manicure, pedicures, massages and even hair braiding.
The average age for patients in the hospital’s extended-care unit ranges from 49 to 100. Gil, 44, serves about 10 patients daily. “If I see that a patient needs it, I do it,” she said. “My goal is to make the patient smile again, to make them feel like a human being again.”
Supervising Nurse Linda Ramirez was one of the people who nominated Gil for the award. They’ve worked together four years and she says Gil always goes the extra mile and does it with a smile.
“There were a lot of good nurses nominated,” Ramirez said. “Angela is an excellent worker. It was a compliment that she won. She is exceptional, and I never have to ask her to do anything.”
Gil’s philosophy comes from her family and her faith. Originally from Honduras, her parents taught her to consider people as a neighbor. In her native country, people take care of their neighbors, she said.
“I say wow; that could be one of my relatives; that could be me. This is the way my family taught me. So if I need to wash the feet, soak the feet, I do it.”
In Honduras, she was a practicing primary care physician and is still licensed there. Prior to working at Our Lady, Gil was a live-in home health aide, providing care in her patient’s homes. Ramirez added that if she were ever sick she would want Gil to care for her.
The award-winning nurse often gets compliments from patients who tell her she should be full nurse, which is a desire of Gils. She’s currently attending evening classes at Wright Community College on the far North Side, but as a single mother, is pacing herself.
“People say, ‘Why don’t you become a nurse? You act like a nurse. You should be the one passing me my medication. You know what you’re doing, you do it right.'”
“But you don’t have to be a nurse to be good to people,” said Gil, who’s expected to complete the college nursing program in about another year. Because patients are at the facility for an extended period to time, Gil often gets the opportunity to build relationships while aiding their recovery.
And when it’s time for them to go home, many patients want to keep in contact, asking for her phone number and some even sending her thank you cards.
“Always the compliment is, ‘This is the best care that I’ve ever gotten’-this is what happens when people appreciate you.”