People of the Year Awards


On Friday, May 14, Palomar Health staff gathered outside to recognize the 2020 and 2021 Roz and Len Kolins and Dorothy Farrow people of the year and unit winners. This year two new categories were added to recognize the efforts of support staff. Congratulations to all of our nominees. Here are your 2021 Roz and Len Kolins and Dorothy Farrow people of the year:

Outpatient Nurse of the Year
Cindy Linder, RN, Healthy Development Services

The 2021 Outpatient Nurse of the Year goes to Cindy Linder, RN, a star who shines bright — a true inspiration to the team. Linder takes a strength-based approach, promotes a positive team attitude and strives to create a work family within the team. She promotes self-care and kindness to one another through shout outs, gratitude activities and creating special events.

Linder has worked tirelessly for the last 15 years to set our services apart from the rest. Because of her efforts, we are looked to for best practices in service delivery and as an innovative model of early intervention. This comes from her inspiring leadership and lifting each staff person up to find their way to best support our patients and their families.

We could go on and on about how great is Linder. I’m also pleased to announce she is Dorothy Farrow’s youngest daughter.

Outpatient Physician of the Year
Arush Patel, MD, Rehab

The Outpatient Physician of the Year goes to Arush Patel, MD, a doctor who really does it all. Dr. Patel is responsive, collaborative and kind, and he delivers high-quality surgical outcomes, which is one of the reasons why his patients are so wonderful to treat.

If he has a complicated case, he will call our clinicians to communicate a patient's special needs, and he is always open to treatment suggestions from anyone on his team.

Because of his wonderful outcomes, he has earned respect from his patients, as well as our staff. 

Clinical Support Person of the Year
Erika Verdugo, Wound Care

Our first Clinical Support Person of the Year is Erika Verdugo, a true star in the Wound Care Department. From the patients to the physicians to the nurses and the leadership team, everyone knows that Verdugo is the glue that holds her team together.

She greets every patient and family member by name with a smile as they walk in the door. Patients often want to share what is going on in their lives with her, and she is always patient and kind, listening carefully to ensure she is hearing what they need. She will often times make multiple phone calls for a patient; so, they won’t feel overwhelmed trying to navigate the complexities of healthcare.

Verdugo is approaching 21 years at Palomar Health, and for more than a year, she has covered two full-time positions during the COVID-19 pandemic at 100%.  Despite this additional workload, Verdugo still looks for ways to help drive excellence with a positive attitude.

Business Support Person of the Year
Rebecca Miller, Organizational Learning

Our first Business Support Person of the Year is Rebecca Miller from the Organizational Learning Department. Miller is the quintessential team player and creates a better department because of her warm and caring disposition. Whether it be running a report, modifying an assignment, ordering supplies or troubleshooting a workstation, you won’t find a task too big or too small that she is not willing to support with kindness and respect.

Even though we don’t take care of patients, she recognizes how the work we do connects to patient care. She has not only earned the respect of her team members but many others throughout the organization. Regardless of who you are or where you work in the organization, chances are that she has helped you in one way or another, either directly or behind the scenes. During particularly busy and/or stressful times, she will often reach out with a phone call just to ask, “Are you doing okay?”

Her dedication to providing exemplary customer service is clear and frankly, quite extraordinary. 

PMC Poway Physician of the Year
Ebunoluwa Johnson, MD

Dr. Ebunoluwa Johnson is described as a genuinely kind person who is always calm, speaks thoughtfully and is easy to approach with questions or concerns. When assessing a patient, she consistently sits down, makes eye contact, and speaks to them like human beings. 

She has a talent for using a hybrid of medical and lay language to describe conditions so patients and family easily understand. She has a perfect combination of optimism and realism, and will adjust her care to maximize patient adherence to their discharge plan. What makes her exceptionally unique is that she is particularly aware of health disparities in our community. 

Whether because of being a minority female in medicine or just because she's a good person, inequities in access, research, and outcomes are of concern to her and positively impact her care. Overall she is a wonderful person and doctor.

PMC Escondido Physician of the Year
Michelle Faierman, MD

Dr. Michelle Faiermanis a model team player who demonstrates high-quality patient care by her meticulous communication skills with the nurses and other ancillary staff. She makes an effort to round and calls the nurses to discuss plan of care, and ensures all questions are answered for the benefit of the patient.

She utilizes other interdisciplinary teams in the hospital to care for her patients which demonstrates her compassion towards her patients and the families, as she takes the time to “meet the patients where they are at in their health journey.” If a patient has a problem, she comes to the bedside and attends to the patient personally and she takes her time to explain not the just medical plan of care, but also help support emotional needs of the patient and family.  She addresses patients as individuals, not diagnoses. She listens to the RNs and takes their feedback into consideration.

She is frequently mentioned as a doctor to recognize, for her approachable, and friendliness with nursing staff who is recognized by the nursing staff for her dependability, approachability, organizational, and compassionate qualities. She is the kind of doctor we all should have!

PMC Poway Nurse of the Year
Payal Bhatia, Intensive Care Unit

Payal is described as the ideal coworker and an incredible nurse and team member who remains calm and performs excellent patient care. She treats everyone with kindness, in a way that makes you immediately have a feeling of trust in her. She is courteous and thoughtful with her words as well as her nonverbal cues and communication. Her calm demeanor helps patients and coworkers feel a positive environment. She takes the time to listen, and makes everyone feel like family.

She speaks to patients in a way to make them feel comfortable and confident in her care. She checks on alarming patients, makes adjustments, informs the nurses, discusses treatments for their dysrhythmias and goes back to treating her own patients. To watch her in action is the definition of kindness and grace. She is sensitive to the various cultures of our patients and their families.

She watches out for family members who are grieving their losses, offering a tissue, water, guidance to exiting the unit with her hand on their backs. She never appears rushed and is able to handle complex and heavy assignments always with high quality. She is just a good person to her core who genuinely cares about her patients and coworkers.

PMC Escondido Nurse of the Year

Regina Bolan, 6 West IMC

Regina Bolan is the ultimate team player and has the energy of two nurses with an infectious disposition that motivates the unit. Whether she is at the bedside, resource, or charge, she always has time to assist her fellow coworkers. She can often be seen encouraging her patients, and getting to know them while listening to their concerns. They love her quick witted sense of humor and her ability to connect with them with a caring touch.

From outside the room, she can often be heard educating, reassuring, and soothing not only patients but family alike. She often collaborates with our unit educator, CNS and rapid response nurses to ensure her patients are receiving the best possible care and many staff shared in their nomination forms that they would trust her with their life!

She is aware of key drivers of HCAPS and surely is one of the reasons this unit had 80% or better first quarter numbers.

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