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June Care Award Recipient Pursued Career in Physical Therapy Following a Personal Battle with Cancer

Charity Gallardo - Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jose Hidalgo, Staffing Coordinator at Santa Ana’s Western Medical Center, is our June recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award.

At age 17, Jose found himself entrenched in a two-year battle with abdominal cancer. As he faced the pain and uncertainty of extensive chemotherapy treatments and invasive surgery, he found comfort and strength in the team of dedicated caregivers who surrounded him each day. “They made me feel like part of the family,” he says.

It was here in this time of great adversity that the Fullerton Native decided to pursue a career in the medical field, where he could return the favor. Now 29, Jose is preparing to embark on the next phase of his inspiring journey; a doctoral program in physical therapy.

“Jose’s story is one of passion, selflessness and dedication,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “He teaches us that caring for others has the power to change the course of someone’s life.”

The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Jose always understood the importance of seizing opportunity, serving as a role model for his younger sisters and willingly embracing the challenge of balancing work and school. He would become the first member of his family to graduate college, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton.

A seminal moment in his education occurred when he worked at the University’s Center for Successful Aging. “It was like a gym for the elderly, helping to restore them through rehabilitation and exercise,” Jose says. “This helped me realize my passion for serving the elderly population.” As a result, Jose hopes to pursue a career in assisting the elderly with their physical therapy needs as he embarks on his doctoral study.

As he endures the arduous process of applying to graduate school, Jose serves as the staffing coordinator for the night shift at Western Medical Center, where he assesses the needs of the patient population and ensures that the floor is appropriately staffed with nurses. He also is involved in decedent affairs, engaging with staff and families during the difficult time of a patient’s passing.

If you ask Jose what caring means to him, he always goes back the harrowing two years he spent in the hospital, overwhelmed by the care of others. “Caring is treating a total stranger like family,” he says. “It’s one thing when medicine can help someone heal, but it’s truly inspiring when a caregiver can make someone feel better. It’s the human component of the healing process.”

Jose will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in the fall at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation to Manos International, an organization dedicated to educating children in impoverished areas throughout the world.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, click here or send us an email.

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