ORLANDO, Fla. – Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, Linnette Johnson said Hispanic Heritage Month is a reminder of her roots.
“I think of every beautiful landscape you can imagine, there are rainforests and waterfalls and the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Her family moved from Puerto Rico during her formative years to Ocala. Johnson, her husband and four children built their family in Central Florida.
As the Senior Vice President Chief Nursing Officer at AdventHealth in Orlando, Johnson said her multicultural background has deepened her connection to her work.
“Being bicultural, being bilingual for me means that I can connect with a whole lot more people,” Johnson said.
Her career goals have not come without some struggle.
“If I were to say that I never faced discrimination it would be a lie, what I can say and what I tell me children is, that I don’t let it make me bitter,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the coronavirus pandemic has caused the nurses she works with to experience incredible loss.
“My grandmother died during the pandemic, my father-in-law died during the pandemic, and yet I still had a job to do, and I still had nurses to support, and the community to care for to make sure that our nurses and our clinicians had what they needed to care for the community,” Johnson said.
While personal protective equipment, or PPE, shortages were a big fear last year, PTSD for nurses was and still is a real concern.
“We actually had our mental health clinicians rounding, on our staff and just real-time debriefing, because a lot of people will say, ‘well nurses are used to loss, right?’ Every patient doesn’t survive, and that is true. But most of them do and with the pandemic, we’ve seen loss at greater numbers,” Johnson said.
During Hispanic Heritage Month Johnson said she looks back on her family’s roots in Puerto Rico, and looks forward to how she can support more nurses from Hispanic and Latino populations.
“How do we impact things for nursing we have a lot of scholarships, so how do we reach out to the schools, right? How do we target Hispanic and Latino populations to say there’s a career path for you and you could come to AdventHealth and we’ll pay for your education through tuition reimbursement, and help you grow,” Johnson said.