Hospital Senior VP revives Hispanic wish
Wearing a festive New Years’ hat, Irene Chavez was wheeling a cart full of grapes around the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center at 11:15 on New Years’ Eve.
` The grapes were neatly packaged in bags of twelve, and Chavez, the Senior Vice President and Area Manager of the Medical Center, was making an annual journey of appreciating the hospital’s workers, and wishing them well in the new year 2014.
“I remember as a little girl my own mother would give us 12 grapes on New Years’ eve as a wish for happiness,” says Chavez, who has now brought the Hispanic tradition to the Kaiser Permanente hospital she oversees.
Chavez says the tradition goes that 12 grapes, eaten one at every stroke of the midnight hour starting the new year, will be a blessing and wish that a family’s pantry will always have food for the family and friends. Chavez has been delivering the grape packages at Kaiser Permanente San Jose for 3 years, ever since she moved to the Bay Area from Texas.
“In Texas, many of the workers at my former hospital were Hispanic and they loved the gift,” says Chavez, who found that here in the Bay Area, she had to modify the New Years’ tradition slightly.
“A lot of Kaiser Permanente San Jose’s nurses are from the Philippines, and they loved the grapes, but said one of their traditions is a nice, round orange on New Year’s.”
So Chavez’ grape rounds started including oranges. Now as she wheels her cart of grapes through the hospital on New Year’s Eve, her dutiful husband, Manny follows her wheeling a second cart filled with boxes of oranges.
“It’s sort of our New Years’ eve family tradition,” said Manny without the slightest bit of irony.
Chavez visits each hospital floor, starting at the top and using the elevator to travel with the carts. In many of the hospital units, she found nurses and staff wearing New Years’ hats and glasses while the patients slept. She joined them in picture-taking holding the oranges and packages of grapes.
“Working on New Years’ eve keeps the nurses, staff and physicians away from their family and friends,” says Chavez, “but hopefully the 12 Grapes tradition from my family will help them feel a little more like family on the job tonight with large doses of appreciation.”