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Lou Puentes Honors His Heritage Through His Work at LVHN

As a member of the Hispanic/Latino/a/x community, he is proud to serve a diverse community.

Lou Puentes Honors His Heritage Through His Work at LVHN

Luis (Lou) Puentes is President of Lehigh Valley Hospital–Hecktown Oaks and Vice President of Operations and Public Safety for LVHN. During Hispanic Heritage Month, he reflects on his cultural heritage and the impact it’s had on his career.

As my career has grown, so has my understanding that my cultural heritage is a benefit to LVHN. - Lou Puentes

As a child and during much of my early career, I didn’t spend much time thinking about my Latino heritage and how it contributed to my job and specifically my work at LVHN. I started with LVHN as a nurse in the emergency department, continued in nursing as a MedEvac flight nurse and transitioned to leadership roles overseeing emergency management and public safety. In each of these roles, my focus was providing and directing patient care in emergency situations, often providing rapid, lifesaving interventions in a fast-paced environment. At that time, when technical skills were most important to successful outcomes, my view of my Hispanic culture at work revolved around my ability to speak Spanish. Colleagues would often call me in to help with Spanish-speaking patients and families. Looking back, I can see how invaluable this skill was, providing a more comfortable, safe and inclusive environment to patients and families who may be experiencing the worst moments of their lives. My ability to interact with patients and their families in Spanish helped ensure they could communicate freely and comfortably when they were receiving care.

Growing a career and recognizing the importance of heritage

As my career has grown, so has my understanding that my cultural heritage is a benefit to LVHN. In hindsight, I realize the lessons I’ve learned and the tools I’ve developed as a result of my Hispanic culture. My grandparents on both sides of my family immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in the late 1950s. I grew up seeing how hard work and perseverance were necessary to be successful. I also saw how difficult it was for my grandparents to navigate their day-to-day life with a language barrier, especially when seeking health care. As they continue to age, I am grateful to those in health care who can speak to them in Spanish and help them feel at ease. 

In my current role as President of LVH–Hecktown Oaks and Vice President of Public Safety for LVHN, it is clear to me that lessons I learned from my family and early in my career shaped me into the leader I am today. I am proud that LVHN continues to work alongside the diverse community we care for, and I am proud of the diverse colleagues who provide care in an inclusive environment for all. I hope when patients and colleagues see me they see a reflection of themselves, their history and their future. I hope they celebrate that the hard work of generations of Hispanic families continues to create leaders of today and tomorrow.

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