Diversity, Working at VITAS
September 15, 2022

Possibilities, Purpose: How VITAS Serves & Supports Latino Team Members

“Having diversity in our office allows for innovation, growth, and opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible if we were all the same,” says Etian Vizoso, VITAS general manager in Miami.

Music, food, language, a shared experience. During National Hispanic Heritage Month and all year round, we at VITAS celebrate and appreciate our Latino team members—and support them in their personal and career goals.

“My heritage is the sounds I grew up to, the music, the language,” says Etian Vizoso, general manager of VITAS in Miami, Florida. “It’s knowing the struggles my parents went through to get to the United States and provide me with the opportunities that I’ve had.”

That experience is one he shares with so many people in South Florida. “My story originated in Cuba, but you hear similar stories over and over again from all over South America and the Caribbean. It’s something we all share.”

The Family Connection

For many VITAS team members, their heritage informs their approach to their work in hospice.

“My culture is family oriented,” says Heydi Arauz, a home care team manager who came to the US from Nicaragua. “I look at my patients’ families as family. They are going through a difficult time, and I want to be there and provide support.”

At VITAS, we provide the support you need to be successful.-Heydi Arauz, VITAS home care team manager

Ana Salazar, also a team manager, was also born in Nicaragua and understands the importance family plays in hospice care.

“When you're taking care of patients, there's a big family involved,” she says. “You have to interact with everybody and be supportive of what they're going through.”

Particularly when introducing a family to hospice, there can be mistrust or skepticism. “They don’t have hospice in Nicaragua,” Heydi says. “So, we have to educate first. Then they understand, and we can work together.”

Having that education come from someone with a shared background can be particularly effective.

“In the Hispanic community, death and dying is not something you talk about because if you speak of death and dying, you're going to expedite the process,” Etian says. “In reality, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. It takes some time and consistency to explain that we're not going to change the process. We're going to allow the condition to proceed while we provide care.”

Celebrating Diversity

VITAS is committed to diversity in hiring, and that commitment directly impacts the quality of care we can provide.

“Our community is diverse,” Etian says. “Having diversity in our office allows for innovation, growth, and opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible if we were all the same.”

Ana adds, “We have a lot of educational tools for our staff to learn the different cultures in the community in order to provide the best service we possibly can and to be as supportive as possible.”

Our phone interpreter service helps nurses communicate with patients who do not speak the same language. And, as new team members come on board, they learn nuances that help ensure patients and families receive respectful, culturally sensitive care.

A People-Focused Culture

As general manager, Etian works to bring the family-oriented nature of his own culture into the Miami office.

“I try to make it inclusive. In my culture, we like to spend time with large groups of people,” he says. “We like to eat together, we like to listen to music together, we like to laugh together. I try to have our program here work the same way.”

Ana agrees, “To celebrate Spanish heritage, we have potlucks, and everybody brings a different food from a different country. It's a time for the employees to share. It's wonderful.”

Possibilities for Career Growth

Numerous opportunities to grow your career exist at VITAS—something Etian knows from personal experience. He started at VITAS as a licensed practical nurse and worked his way up to general manager.

“I had opportunities I would've never thought were possible,” he says. “I'm a curious individual, and I was surrounded by people who answered my questions. They gave me the ‘why’ behind what we are doing, which allowed me to become more knowledgeable and more proficient.”

He has paid it forward, supporting others at VITAS as they work to meet their own career goals. Heydi was reluctant to apply to the team manager role, worried her proficiency in English would hold her back.

“She overcame her fears and took the leap,” Etian says. “Today, she's a manager.”

Likewise, Heydi sees her own experience in others and helps encourage them, too. “There’s a nurse who is going through the same process that I did. I tell her and everybody, ‘You can do it. It's not easy, but you can do it.’ At VITAS, we provide the support you need to be successful.”

That includes arranging schedules to accommodate classes and trainings to help team members advance and learn.

“Those opportunities are open to everybody,” says Etian. “If you have the commitment, if you're compassionate about what you do, and if what drives you is your desire to really make a difference, the opportunities are endless for you.”

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