Alfredo Navarette-Alejo, nurse and night shift supervisor at Countryside Rehab and Healthcare Center not only had to work through the rigorous LPN curriculum, but also started from scratch with a brand new language. Originally from Cuba, Navarette-Alejo studied the English language for three years. However, this barrier didn’t deter him, and his bilingualism has since benefited many Countryside Rehab residents and their families. Navarette-Alejo finished earning his LPN license in 2016. Soon after, he started applying for nursing jobs, and was quickly snatched up by Countryside Rehab.

He explained that knowing each day he can, “get things done and solve problems,” “see a patient smile,” and “provide and and make a difference for somebody,” motivates him to show up each day with the right attitude.

Along with healing medical care, Navarette-Alejo’s ministry—so to speak—is to bring light and life into patients’ lives through laughter. “My major thing is make the patient laugh. I do anything you can imagine to try to make them feel at home with family, to try to make them laugh. . . If they’re enjoying my company and laughing, then they know they can count on me and that I’m on their side.”

At the same time, as a supervisor to the nurses on staff, Navarette-Alejo has a more serious, firm side, as the residents’ well-being is the number one priority. “I joke with people, but I am stern if you’re not doing your part or paying attention.” In this way, he practices the core value honesty. He explained the importance of being honest and frank with your team, while not giving into  micromanagement.

Through it all, he stressed the importance of core values passion, compassion, and integrity. “You have to be passionate, or there’s no way you’re going to do quality work. If you don’t get out everyday knowing you’re doing the right things and making a difference for somebody, then get out [of the industry]. You do it because you’re making a change for somebody. . . Treat someone the way you’d want someone to treat your mom, your grandma. . .  If you don’t have that compassion to be there for these people when they need you the most, then don’t do it. We’re in the people business, you’re not packaging things, selling things, etc, we’re working with human beings,” he explained.

“My major thing is make the patient laugh. I do anything you can imagine to try to make them feel at home with family, to try to make them laugh. . . If they’re enjoying my company and laughing, then they know they can count on me and that I’m on their side.”

He astutely articulated how integrity and respect intertwine: “Do the right thing, do your best. That’s a form of respect for yourself.”

Andrea Mattern, RN/MDS at Countryside Rehab selected Navarette-Alejo for recognition in this spotlight with a glowing nomination. She said, “Alfredo is always ready to go above and beyond to help any staff or resident that needs it. Alfredo will work as not only a supervisor, but also picks up shifts as a floor nurse and a CNA. Alfredo is also in school to become an RN. He is very passionate about making sure the residents get the care they need and deserve.  He is helpful in translating with Spanish speaking residents. Alfredo gets frequent compliments from staff and family members as someone they know they can turn to whenever they need anything. I personally know I can count on Alfredo in emergency situations, he is ready to help wherever he’s needed.”

Regardless of where his future carries him, Navarette-Alejo believes that he was “called to care,” and wants to continue a more “hands-on” approach in the senior health care world, rather than working behind an office desk. He said: “I like to be a nurse on the floor, be hands-on, helping with patients directly. . . checking in with patients, figuring things out and hitting it on the nail what’s wrong, and then go to the doctor. Sometimes I give suggestions to the doctor, and that is gratifying.”

These days, his ultimate goal is to become an RN. He spoke how deeply his past and current patients have impacted him, and mentioned a more personal thread that further connects him with his residents. “My grandma has some of the same mental conditions as my patients. I called her today and told her, ‘You’re my little star.’ She’s in critical condition and not doing very well. She has survived strokes, and we thought she wouldn’t make it many times. . . Because I’m not always able to be there for her, I try to be there for others.”

When Navarette-Alejo isn’t working to bring joy into residents’ lives, he spends quality time with his family, including his fianceé, a “beautiful nurse,” who shares his passion for healing and caring for others. He also enjoys visiting the beach, jet skiing, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and renting cars on a local racetrack. “On the racetrack, I like to drive really fast to satisfy my desire for that, since I’m always really strict with driving the speed limit and respecting the law. My coworkers get frustrated when they drive behind me… I’m a very careful driver, I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket,” he said, laughing.