May 9, 2023

Celebrating our 2023 extraordinary nurses

Nurses may do even more than you think. Their varied roles are vital to the high-quality care our members receive.

Working as a nurse in patients’ homes allows Jacob Reichardt, RN, to follow a patient for more than a few days. Recently, he cared for a patient’s skin graft long enough to see him walk again.

At Kaiser Permanente, our nurses are remarkable. In different ways, they each contribute to the success of our mission. Through these nurse profiles, you’ll learn about some of the many roles our nurses play in providing high-quality care. Their compassion, integrity, and dedication shine through in everything they do.

Compassionate care

Tamara Amundson, RN

Making a difference in every phone call

Tamara K. Amundson, RN, is an advice and triage nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Appointment and Advice Call Center. She is one of 900 registered nurses who handle about 1 million member calls every month.

Our advice nurses answer a variety of member questions and concerns and also help members by providing information on specialty programs such as wellness coaching or advice before international travel.

“You make a difference in every call,” Amundson said.

The calls vary greatly. A recent call from a patient questioning a prescription turned into much-needed support for the loss of a child. Another call may be about chest pain, a patient feeling confused or depressed, or a mother worried about her baby not taking to breastfeeding.

“The next call comes quickly,” Amundson said. “It takes critical thinking skills.”

Gaylynn Ledda-Camara, RN

Being a patient’s advocate can save a life

Gaylynn Ledda-Camara, RN, is an emergency room nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center in Honolulu. She knows how important it is to be an advocate for patients and their families. In fact, her focus on advocacy saved a patient’s life.

A patient came in with arm pain. He figured the pain was from casting a fishing line.

“The way he appeared, and his wife’s concern, told me something more was wrong,” Ledda-Camara said.

So, she brought her concerns to the physician’s attention.

“We repeated the tests and discovered he was having a heart attack. He had several blockages that required emergency surgery,” Ledda-Camara said.

Jacob Reichardt

Helping patients return to a full life

Jacob Reichardt, RN, is a home health nurse for Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. He gets to know his patients and finds great satisfaction in making a difference in their lives.

One of his patients had lost the skin on one of his legs due to a dangerous and aggressive bacterial condition. Reichardt used various techniques to manage the wound until the patient qualified for a skin graft. Then, Reichardt continued to care for him until he was able to resume his old life.

“He and his wife sent me a thank-you letter from a hiking trip in Portugal,” Reichardt said. “This was after great concern that he would never walk again.”

Enduring Commitment

Ariel Miguel, RN

A partner in recovery

Ariel Miguel, RN, is the lead nurse for postanesthesia care at the Kaiser Permanente Franklin Medical Offices in Denver.

“We are the first people the patients see when they wake up from anesthesia. We reassure them that their surgery is finished, and we monitor them while they’re recovering,” said Miguel.

Recently, Miguel and the postanesthesia care team cared for a patient who wasn’t breathing after surgery. Miguel helped the anesthesiologist open the patient’s airway and provided breathing treatment and medications.

The patient soon began breathing on her own.

Betty Rice, RN

It’s the little things

Betty M. Rice, RN, is a director for adult family medicine for Kaiser Permanente in southern Maryland and Washington, D.C. She believes it’s the little things that show patients that you see them as a person and not just a number in the waiting room.

At one point, a patient with diabetes was brought into the clinic in a wheelchair every week. Rice would dress her wound. She noticed that from time to time, the patient appeared a little down.

“One particular day, I took a marker and drew flowers and a sun on her bandage,” Rice said. “That put the biggest smile on her face!”

Marleen Vasquez, RN

Building relationships

Marleen Vasquez, RN, is a maternal child health nurse and certified lactation consultant for Kaiser Permanente’s Obstetric Remote Monitoring Program in Georgia. One of the things Vasquez loves most about her job is her weekly outreach calls with patients. During those calls, she checks on her patients’ blood pressure and other issues that may impact their pregnancy.

Vasquez remembers one pregnant patient of advanced maternal age who had high blood pressure. She suddenly lost the pregnancy and became depressed.

Vasquez followed her through 6 weeks of postpartum care and encouraged her to ask for help.

“It was a huge impact for her. She told me, ‘I can’t believe how far I’ve come.’”

Six months later, she was back with a new pregnancy.

“Because of our relationship, I quickly got her emotional support. She eventually gave birth to a full-term, healthy baby boy.”

Extraordinary Nursing

Sue Davis, RN

Mental health help, right when it’s needed

Sue L. Davis, RN, is on Kaiser Permanente’s Depression Care Management team and part of the new Collaborative Care Program in Washington state. Davis pioneered the role of the registered nurse in the program.

Kaiser Permanente formed the Collaborative Care Program in Washington in September 2022 with a goal of bringing mental health services into primary care. The program team includes a registered nurse, a licensed clinical social worker, and a psychiatrist. They work with primary care doctors to identify patients in need of mental health care. Then, they reach out to patients and connect them to treatment. The idea is to offer help rather than leaving it to patients to seek treatment on their own.

Early results for the program are promising. So far, 3 out of every 4 patients in the program have reported improvement with their depression symptoms.

Divina Perez, RN

Everybody’s our patient

Divina Perez, RN, is the pediatrics charge nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in Fontana, California.

Recently, Perez cared for a child who had multiple issues, including a breathing condition that caused his heart to stop temporarily. Understandably, this upset the child’s mother greatly.

Perez responded to the mother’s distress several times during the hospital stay. “Everybody’s our patient,” Perez said.

Even after the child was well enough to leave the hospital, Perez continued to provide support. For example, the mother reached out for help with the child’s medication.

“We treat the family as a unit. If there is something that the parents need or they notice something is off, we have to listen,” Perez said.

Brenda Peterson, RN

An added layer of support

Brenda L Peterson, RN, is a clinical nurse leader and the director of tele-critical care for Kaiser Permanente.

Using remote video tools, our tele-critical care nurses can look into any hospital room and respond to patient emergencies quickly.

“It’s an added layer of medical support to the bedside team,” Peterson said.

In one case, it took only seconds for one of the nurses on her team to alert the tele-critical care physician and hospital staff about an unresponsive patient. That quick response and resulting teamwork were critical to reviving the patient.