Medal of Excellence
The Medal of Excellence Award was developed by the Patient Advisory Council to identify and reward extraordinary efforts made by non-physician staff at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. These special people consistently surpass expectations and epitomize the spirit of Moores Cancer Center. By their compassion, they are role models their colleagues can emulate.
2013 Award Winner: Linda Collazo, RN
A newly diagnosed lung cancer patient arrived for a chemotherapy treatment at the Infusion Center feeling anxious and nervous. The patient was assisted by Linda Collazo, RN. Linda’s “gentle and genuine caring way about her” put the patient and the patient’s family at ease.
“She took her time to explain everything that would happen to me at the appointment, what I could expect during the treatment and after treatment,” wrote the patient in a nomination form. “She had such a gentle and genuine caring way about her; I knew I was in good hands.”
When the patient returns for treatments this person always asks for Linda because the “service she provides is remarkable.”
“She honestly cares about how I am feeling, asks me if I am having any problems or issues and seeks the advice of other professionals if I am having any issues. She reviews my labs with me, will make recommendations if needed and most of all she always has a smile. She doesn’t feel sorry for me, but concentrates on making my treatment as pleasant as possible. I know when I see her after I have had a CT scan and I give her the good news that my chemotherapy treatments are working – she is just as happy as my family and I are. She honestly has a kind heart and cares! My family and I are so thankful she is my nurse.”
We too are thankful to have Linda as well as Ellen Carr, MSN, RN, Vince Genna, NP, Lai Kwan Siu-Boyle, RN, OCN, and so many other extraordinary people on the Moores Cancer Center team. Ellen, Vince and Lai Kwan were also honored at the 2013 Medal of Excellence ceremony in November.
Ellen received two nominations including one from a very emotional patient who said Ellen’s dedication to patient care helped her feel at ease. “She also made sure I was kept up to date by going out of her way to call me and let me know why results were running a bit later than anticipated.”
Vince was described by his nominee as “a caring, informed, calming, beneficial, personable influence on my entire experience and future outlook.”
In the nomination for Lai Kwan, a patient said she is considered like family or more specifically a “favorite niece.” She is patient and “has that extra ingredient to round out the perfect nurse: a gentle sense of humor.”
Mary Collins, MBA, manager of Radiation Oncology, was recognized at the award ceremony for encouraging her team to strive for a great patient experience. This year, 12 of her staff were nominated for the Medal of Excellence.
2011 Award Winner: Gil Corbin
Security agent Gil Corbin (pictured below) was awarded the Cancer Center’s 2011 Medal of Excellence in ceremonies on Friday, May 20. Gil, who has been with the Cancer Center since February 2006, received a number of nominations for his kindness and sense of humor, as he greets patients and assists them when they are dropped off for treatment. And for one patient, Gil was truly a hero, saving the life of a pet in distress.
The dog had been left in the patient’s car, parked in the roundabout for the brief time the patient was inside getting his weekly injections. This was their routine; but this time, the small animal managed to wiggle part way through the slightly lowered window, only to get stuck, and was hanging by his neck from the window when Gil came to the rescue. He attempted to help the choking dog while using his personal cell phone to call into the infusion center and alert the patient that he needed to come to his car immediately. In the grateful patient’s own words:
“The fact is that Gil’s keen observation skills and his quick actions ABSOLUTELY saved this dog’s life! Hero is a word used very loosely these days. But when someone performs flawlessly to save a life, there is no better title that should be bestowed on them! He is a very responsible man, who takes his job very seriously and goes out of his way to treat the patients with a great deal of respect and light-hearted humor, on what is usually a gloomy day for an infusion patient.”
Honorable mention was given to Orly Aviksas, who works at the Registration Desk. (Pictured below are, from left, PAC members Patty Alessio and Dennis Richmonds, Orly Aviksas, and Wayne Bardwell, Director of Patient and Family Support.) Orly received several nominations, all commenting on her warm and welcoming attitude, and the extra effort she always makes to talk to patients and their family members and make sure their needs are being addressed. Orly began her career with the Cancer Center in 2006, seeking a position at the registration desk because she enjoys working directly with people. She loves her job, and every day she looks forward to the opportunity to serve our patients and their families.
The Medal of Excellence was established in 2005 by the Cancer Center Patient Advisory Council (PAC) to acknowledge the extraordinary patient service efforts of non-physician staff. Drop-boxes are placed throughout the Cancer Center for patients and visitors to provide positive feedback about individual efforts. Nominations are reviewed annually by a PAC subcommittee, which selects the winner, whose name is inscribed on a plaque in the Multipurpose Clinic corridor.
Congratulations to Gil, Orly, and to all the nominees who exemplify our commitment to providing outstanding care and service to our patients and their families.
Download a Medal of Excellence nomination form (PDF).