Five individuals and a family of three have been awarded a “Healthcare Hero of the Year” award for 2020 by the Grossmont Healthcare District.
The awards are given out annually to honor community members who improve the quality of health care in East County.
Nominees for this year’s awards, as always, included individual volunteers and those from organizations who demonstrate selfless dedication to creating a healthy East County community, going above and beyond their regular employment. Those nominated by their peers, colleagues, family and friends are typically volunteers whose work in health care might not otherwise be recognized.
This year’s honorees are:
- Susan Guerra, a volunteer and advocate since 2015 for families living with Alzheimer’s disease;
- Saib Abdulnoor, a junior volunteer since 2017 at Sharp Grossmont Hospital;
- George Bartz, a volunteer since 2015 as a shuttle driver and at Grossmont Hospital’s Volunteer Auxiliary’s Thrift Korral;
- Dr. Paul Dean, a volunteer dermatologist with who sees uninsured patients at his La Mesa practice at no cost;
- Steve Preston, a volunteer medical needs driver for the East County Transitional Living Center;
- Brian, Ben and Shannon Foster, a family that volunteers to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest in youth.
Guerra is part of several Alzheimer’s San Diego organization’s activities, but her primary responsibility is serving on the nonprofit’s Board of Directors as a volunteer. Guerra and her sister lost their mother in the fall of 2018 to Alzheimer’s disease. She and her sister are part of a “Mimi’s Marchers,” which has raised thousands of dollars towards the cause to fight Alzheimer’s and support local families during times of need.
Abdulnoor volunteers in the hospital’s oncology and palliative care unit. Last year he was elected Junior Volunteer Auxiliary President by fellow junior volunteers. Abdulnoor leads the group’s fundraising efforts and guides support of Grossmont Hospital employee and physician engagement events.
Bartz is a Blue Angel shuttle driver, accompanying patients, visitors and staff with transportation around the hospital’s campus, nearby medical offices and local bus and trolley lines and is a cashier at the Thrift Korral, a resale boutique in La Mesa. The U.S. Army veteran has also personally “pinned” nearly 200 veterans in hospice treatment, as a thank you for their service to the country.
Dean, a volunteer dermatologist with Champions for Health‘s program Project Access San Diego (PASD), sees patients for consultations, skin cancer screenings, and in-office procedures like biopsies and lesion removals, pro bono. He also helps at another free clinic and has brought on a partner to assist.
Preston volunteers up to six days a week at El Cajon-based East County Transitional Living Center, a place that helped him beat alcohol addiction. He became an intake specialist for the nonprofit and is now a driver for medical needs.
The Foster family volunteers for the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation, which provides free heart screenings for San Diego County residents ages 12 to 25, looking to prevent sudden cardiac arrest and death in youth.
The event has included a Spring luncheon every year with a celebrity emcee and a video highlighting the volunteers, but with the COVID-19 crisis, the luncheon has been pushed back until sometime later this year at a date yet to be chosen.
The Grossmont Healthcare District supports health-related community programs and services in East County and is the landlord of Sharp Grossmont Hospital. The district is governed by a five-member board of directors that represents more than 500,000 people inside a 750-square mile area in East County.