Meet Our 2019 Healthcare Heroes

Volunteers are a significant part of care teams in local health organizations, working alongside doctors, nurses, community health workers, neighborhood navigators, community paramedics, and pharmacists to address the community’s medical and social needs. Each year, the Grossmont Healthcare District recognizes volunteer “Healthcare Heroes” who improve health and quality of life for East Region residents. Nominated by their peers, honorees are considered as true unsung heroes of healthcare.

Autumn Herwehe, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and community volunteer

Autumn volunteers her time bringing smiles to some of East County’s older adults and vulnerable residents in and around their homes. She also plays a particularly special role in her volunteer work at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For many years, she has assisted the hospital’s volunteer “clown brigade” by coordinating visits to patients and their families on a weekly basis. Out in the community, Autumn helps residents by cleaning their homes, picking up groceries, or sometimes simply listening.

“Autumn’s smile is contagious, and she helps brighten the day for many different people. Kind, thoughtful and altruistic, she is constantly motivated to improve lives. Her positive energy inspires those around her to be the very best they can be. East County is a better place thanks to the goodness of this inspiring woman!”
Bridgett DeSonia, teacher at Grossmont Union High School District and personal friend

Dan Reynolds, Grossmont Hospital Foundation and volunteer physical therapist

Dan has devoted countless hours leading volunteers for Grossmont Hospital Foundation annual fundraising events. He has played a key role in helping to raise money for up-to-date medical equipment and resources at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. Dan also works as a physical therapist in the hospital and extends his ability to help people heal beyond his regular hours. An entire corner of the Reynolds’ family room is filled with equipment Dan has purchased to help treat those who can’t get access to or a prescription for physical therapy, and he often volunteers to treat patients on weekends.

“Four years ago, I was struck by a car while crossing the street. After a week in the hospital, I came home to a hospital bed set up in our family room and resided there until I could attempt walking. During that time, I discovered first hand why Dan’s patients will not see anyone but him.”

–Kim Reynolds, wife of Dan Reynolds

Yolanda Arroyo, RN, Volunteers In Medicine volunteer nurse

Yolanda has been a volunteer Registered Nurse with Volunteers in Medicine – San Diego (VIM) for six years. She works directly with the physicians and patients at the El Cajon free clinic. Yolanda is bilingual in English and Spanish so she helps with translation for our Spanish speaking patients and makes sure they get equitable care. She is also a Lead RN who also assists with training our new RNs.  She has been involved in the Hispanic Nurses Association San Diego, raising money for scholarships for nursing students and speaking to students about the benefits of nursing as a career.

“Yolanda is a caring and qualified leader. Anyone who meets can see that she goes above and beyond to care for our patients. She is able to connect with some of our newly diagnosed Spanish speaking patients who need assistance understanding how to best care for themselves.”
Maureen Hartin, CEO of Volunteers In Medicine – San Diego

Frank Pucharski, ElderHelp of San Diego volunteer

Frank has been a volunteer with ElderHelp of San Diego for four years, providing over 300 hours of service in and out of the office. Frank goes grocery shopping with his senior matches, and he has also provided over 800 rides to clients through the ElderHelp of San Diego transportation program, Seniors a Go Go. Frank comes in every Monday to make check in calls with seniors for our “RUOK” program, and has also made many survey calls to clients to help ElderHelp evaluate whether they are offering successful programs. Frank also volunteers at the San Diego Zoo, and as an ESL teacher.

“I am amazed at the variety of ways Frank helps. He really makes a difference in the lives of so many seniors. Our clients look forward to his check in calls. His work greatly increases their quality of life and reduces isolation. He enjoys hearing their stories and connecting with them.”
Amy Hull, Volunteer Manager at ElderHelp

Isabelle Termulo, Sharp Grossmont Hospital junior volunteer

Isabelle has been a junior volunteer at Sharp Grossmont Hospital since early 2017, and has contributed more than 1,000 hours of service through various roles. Isabelle has volunteered in the gift shop and off-site thrift store, and as an aquatic aide during the summer in the hospital Rehab Pool. She is also the smiling, welcoming presence at the hospital concierge desk in the main lobby on Tuesday nights. A high school student, Isabelle is also active in her church music group and helped run a tennis clinic. Isabelle aspires to be an officer in the military; specifically a merchant marine.

“Isabelle assists in training new volunteers, models excellent customer service, and is kind to everyone. During a recent chat with me about her future she said ‘I will continue working hard in my community and will always carry with me the joy I receive in helping others.’”
Linda Van Fulpen, Director of Volunteer Services at Sharp Grossmont Hospital

We thank all community members who took the time to reach out and nominate inspiring volunteers. Do you know any inspiring volunteers working in the health field? Tell us about them by nominating a hero today.