In honor of Veteran’s Day, we spoke to Navy Veteran Danny Rodriguez, a clinical associate in CHOC Children’s recovery room (PACU). After a near-drowning accident when he was 4 years old, Danny was hospitalized at CHOC. Years later, he returned to the hospital as an employee to help other patients the way he’d been cared for. CHOC is proud to have numerous veterans on staff taking care of our patients.
Q: What role do you play in caring for patients at CHOC?
A: As a clinical associate, I assist nurses by taking patients’ vital signs in the pre-operative unit, and by helping patients be discharged from the recovery room. Before transferring to this department, I worked in central transport for two years, helping ensure all departments, including surgical services, had the medical supplies and equipment they needed, when they needed it. We also worked hard to ensure special patient care needs were met promptly and efficiently.
Q: What aspect of your role as a clinical associate are you most passionate about?
A: I’m the first one to see kids when they come in for surgery. I get to find out what they like and talk to them about it, to make sure they’re comfortable. Sometimes I’m able to see them before and after their surgery. Everyone does such a great job here at CHOC, but parents and kids like it when they see familiar faces.
Q: How have your experiences in the military prepared you for your healthcare career at CHOC?
A: My experiences in combat have taught me to expect the unexpected. I’ve been deployed three times, and I’m the first line of care for my artillery unit. Going back to the Spanish War, every generation in my family has had someone in the military. But I’ve always wanted to work with kids, and during my deployment to Iraq, I had some experience treating kids. When I got off active duty and joined the Navy Reserve, I had the chance to come to CHOC and give back to the organization that helped me as a child.
Q: What advice would you offer someone considering a career in healthcare?
A: Come to work always ready to have fun and keep a smile on your face!
Q: How do you cope with juggling two roles, in the Navy Reserves and at CHOC?
A: I love to be on the go, but I couldn’t do it without my wife. She’s my rock. When I’m not at work, I coach football, and play competitive rugby and softball.