It’s easy to see why Team Caceres thrives. Sergio and Emerita Caceres, both Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) at Los Angeles Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre – Pursue Health, push each other to do better, dream bigger, and provide better quality of care.
Sergio is the strong, quieter one. Born and raised in Peru, he came to America in his 20s, learned English and went to school while working in restaurants. His family boasts four CNAs, and the career path not only transformed Sergio’s future. It led him to his wife, Emerita.
The two met at work more than 20 years ago. Emerita, also from Peru, is the lively, sociable one of the couple, able to coax smiles out of patients and co-workers. Always on the go, she whirls from task to task with efficiency and cheer.
“If I have to pick the hardest part of the job, I can’t think of anything really, because we work as a team,” Sergio said.
Aside from raising their two children, one of whom is USC-bound, the couple have also made time to enroll in most of the classes offered by the SEIU 2015 Education Fund. Sergio and Emerita have completed classes and received certifications on CPR, Computer, Dementia, in-person Continuing Education Units (CEUs), as well as cell phone-based classes that focus on Vocational English and skills building.
“The great thing about Emerita and Sergio is that they have a really good work ethic,” said Jennifer Sierra, former Director of Staff Development (DSD) and current Infection Preventionist at Los Angeles Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre – Pursue Health. “It is very important for a supervisor or DSD to acknowledge their efforts in going above and beyond, trying to make sure that they’re educated and knowledgeable and that they’re aware of everything that’s going on at work. That’s a big step: taking initiative to further your education and your knowledge in order to fully do your job to the best of your ability.”
The decision to enroll in so many classes was easy, Emerita said.
“We always want to help our patients, and when we improve, we do that,” she said. “It was hard to make time, but we did it together. And we learned so much, especially about Alzheimer’s patients and patients with Dementia. The training helped us understand them.”
Sergio said the classes have definitely enhanced their skills as caregivers.
“We are better for knowing more, for understanding more, and us learning more is better for all,” he said, adding that he most enjoys the practice they receive from the classes.
“We are 20 years on the job and we still love most caring for the patients, and being compassionate with them,” he said.
SEIU Local 2015 representative Karen Rodriguez admires the couple’s dedication to their jobs and to their patients. “It just shows that they are always willing to continue that quality care for their patients,” she said. “They know that the more educated you are the more skilled you are. They already have the compassion, the care factor there, so anything above that is just amazing.”
For Emerita, every day is a chance to make her work count, to uplift those who are suffering and make the world a better place. Working side by side with her husband is a happy bonus.
“We treat our patients like family, and you take care of family,” she said.