Gabriel Orellana, RN

Sep 18, 2023 | Team Member Spotlights

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Gabriel Orellana, RN, works as an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes Heart Hospital. He works in the progressive care unit where his patient assignments can vary from stable telemetry patients to immediate post-op open heart surgery patients. Orellana has been part of our ministry since April 2022.

Orellana knew from a very young age that he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. 

“I watched my grandma struggle with many different health problems, and although I did not understand what was happening at that age, I was very impressed watching my two aunts, who are a family medicine doctor and a nurse, take such good care of my grandma,” he says. “It was watching their compassion and care that drove me to pursue a career in healthcare.”

Living Out His Heritage and Culture

Orellana and his family are from the small country of El Salvador and have been in the U.S. since he was 10 years old. 

“I celebrate my heritage and culture simply by living it,” Orellana says. He shares how as the generations pass, kids grow up, and people adapt and embrace the American culture, where Hispanic traditions and even the language can be forgotten at times. 

“I try to keep it alive by speaking in Spanish with my relatives, teaching it to my wife, eating traditional food and celebrating holidays in our traditional ways,” he says.

His favorite tradition is their New Year’s Eve party. Orellana shares how he usually sees more relatives then than any other holiday.

“We all get together for a large dinner including panes con pollo, ceviche and roast,” he says. “There’s also a special tradition where we eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes for the new year right at midnight.” 

Orellana’s favorite Salvadoran food is pupusas, a traditional dish that is composed of a homemade flour tortilla stuffed with beans, cheese and meat, topped with a fermented cabbage relish and light tomato sauce. 

“This was a delicious meal my mom used to make for my sister and me every Sunday growing up and I know that my grandma used to do the same with her own kids for many years,” Orellana says.

Acknowledging and Celebrating All Cultures

Hispanic Heritage Month is a bit new to Orellana, who grew up in a small town in Alabama with a small Hispanic population.

“I have never worked or studied anywhere that celebrates this month, which makes me very thrilled to see FMOLHS acknowledging and celebrating my heritage,” he says. 

Our DEI Commitment

Our ministry’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports culturally competent care education for our team members all year long, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month each September.

Interested in joining the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System team? Learn more here.

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