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Kite Insights

Now and Then

The Inspiration Fountain at Rady Children's Hospital

Longtime Team Members and Volunteers Reflect on Their Decades at Rady Children’s

Rita Valencia, Surgical Registration

For Rita Valencia, Rady Children’s is all about the families. She’s seen many in her 42 years at the hospital—from escorting patients into surgery in a wagon to acting as a translator for patients’ parents to receiving a thank you letter from a patient’s father that she keeps on her desk. Even her own family has been touched by Rady Children’s: two sisters and a niece are also part of Team Rady.

“My great experience is serving our families with respect, making them feel comfortable, assuring them they will receive the best of care,” she says. “It’s been an amazing journey to be a part of this organization.”

Don Bellows, Volunteer

Don Bellows has become a familiar face around Rady Children’s. The retired mechanical engineer has been a fixture around the hospital for three decades—and he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. On any given day, the nonagenarian, who’s affectionately come to be known as “Grandpa Don,” can be found guiding patients as they pick out library books, pushing wheelchairs, or helping out any other place he’s needed.

“Volunteering is good for anyone,” he says. “We work during our working life—we have to support a family—but then there comes a time when we have time to volunteer, and we should do that. It helps those who need it, and it also helps the volunteers themselves and gives them something, too—a reason to get up in the morning.”

Lori Faierman, Registered Nurse

In her 38 years at Rady Children’s, Lori Faierman has witnessed the monumental impact the hospital has had on the community. From expanding the campus and adding services to pulling together to launch one of the county’s first vaccine clinics during the pandemic, Faierman knows that Rady Children’s is there for the kids and families of San Diego County.

“We have cared for the children who now bring in their children for care. We have comforted hundreds of thousands of little ones and their families, making a difference every day in their lives. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with some of the most amazing health care professionals,” she says. “As I wind down my time here—yes, I am going to have to retire sometime—I have no doubt that the future of the children of San Diego is in the best of hands.”

Meaningful Moments

Karen Eelma, Patient Access Rep III, Autism Discovery Institute

“During the construction of the Rose Pavilion, we had an opportunity to sign the beams that were part of the clock tower and write healing thoughts for the Acute Care Pavilion on the inner drywall. Every time I look at the clock tower and Acute Care Pavilion, I feel connected with a true sense of belonging.”

Rakesh Bhattacharjee, MD, Director of Pediatric Sleep Medicine at Rady Children’s, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UC San Diego

“Witnessing the transformative impact of all those in the medical field ignites a passion for continual evolution. I embrace the intricate tapestry of science and humanity. Specializing in sleep disorders, I aspire to greatness in medicine as a result.”

Daniela Carvalho, MD, Director of the Hearing and Cochlear Implant Program and CHARGE Center at Rady Children’s, Professor of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at UC San Diego

“I always say that I have my two children at home, but that at the end of the day my patients become ‘my children’ as well. Being a good doctor feels like we become part of our patient’s families and I am so honored to be able to work together with them to make our patients healthy and happy.”

Anne Bird, MD, Medical Program Director of Behavioral Health Integration at Rady Children’s, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego

“Good doctors strive to make a lasting difference in the lives of their patients. They are champions that believe that there is no health without mental health.”