Hoag honors nurses, receives $15-million gift for continued education

Sub-ICU nurse Sarah Turecek was honored at Hoag hospital last Thursday as the 2024 Nurse of the Year.
(Susan Hoffman)
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As part of a ceremony to honor this year’s Nurse of the Year, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian received a $15-million gift from philanthropists Julia and George Argyros late last week, Hoag officials announced Friday.

The grant will be put toward the Julia Argyros Center for Nursing Excellence, which provides scholarships for nurses to continue their educations. Hospital officials said about 87% of nurses at Hoag have bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but many more have gone on to receive their master’s.

In a statement, daughters Stephanie and Lisa Argyros said, “It warmed our hearts to share such a special moment with Hoag nurses. Seeing their support for each other and how much they care about their work was inspiring. We are happy that our family can help support them, and we hope this gift gives them so many more opportunities to grow. Hoag nurses take such good care of the community, and we are grateful we could show our appreciation.”

The sub-ICU team congratulates Sarah Turecek, who was honored last week as the Nurse of The Year at Hoag.
(Susan Hoffman)

As part of that ceremony, nurse Sarah Turecek was named Nurse of the Year.

Turecek, who works in sub-ICU, said it was by chance that she was around when the announcement of her designation as the year’s top nurse was made days ahead of the ceremony by the hospital’s chief nursing officer, Rick Martin.

“It was on our Nurses’ Day celebration ... Hoag goes all out every year, but this was the first time I stayed the whole time. I try to make it to the lunch, but I’m not usually able to watch through the Nurse of the Year award. I’m a very emotional person. I cry easily when I’m not at work and ... I get moved easily. But I was mainly in shock,” said Turecek. “[The honor] was so surreal because I wasn’t expecting it.”

Turecek said she later found out from her co-worker, Ginny Ofstein, that she and others on her floor spearheaded a nomination campaign for Turecek.


Laughing, she said, “I don’t know what I did to get in her good graces. I consider her a nurse with really high standards. There’s a lot of nurses on our floor that are also deserving of recognition, but I feel very, very blessed to have people who work alongside me that believe in me. I think it’s a really heavy burden to carry because now people will look at me and see [I’m] not a perfect nurse. They’ll see somebody who messes up and is far from the perfect nurse, but I think I hope it inspires others that you don’t have to be perfect to be awarded such a high recognition.”

The sub-ICU team surrounds Sarah Turecek, fourth from left, at Hoag last week.
The sub-ICU team surrounds Sarah Turecek, fourth from left, at Hoag last week. Turecek said she found out she was Nurse of the Year earlier this month.
(Susan Hoffman)

Turecek said she started working at Hoag in the summer of 2012, but that her attachment to the hospital began at least two years prior when she was in nursing school. She said she’d entered the field because at 19 she didn’t really know what to do with her life, but she’d seen relatives who seemed to have fulfilling careers in nursing. Turecek said she nearly quit in the first two weeks, but her first patient interaction at Hoag sealed the deal.

“That must’ve been 14 years ago and, to this day; I still feel the same with Hoag. That was where I encountered my first patient, and I hope Hoag will be where I see my very last patient too,” Turecek said.

She said she was thankful to Amy Michalski, who led her to choose to work in sub-ICU after Turecek finished her time in the “float pool,” in which she was assigned wherever needed. She also thanked her boss, Hilary Stagliano, and charge nurse, Fiona Goodwin, for encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

“The support of Hoag’s renowned nursing program reflects the Argyros family’s passion and respect for the critical role nurses play in Hoag’s quality and culture of compassionate care,” said Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and chief executive officer, in a statement Friday. “We are beyond grateful for Julia, George, Lisa and Stephanie’s generosity. This gift will empower nurses to continue achieving their educational goals, take on advanced clinical roles in patient care, broaden their skill sets, mentor new Hoag nurses, and enhance patient care, which is the heart of what we do.”

From left, senior vice president and chief nursing officer Rick Martin.
From left, senior vice president and chief nursing officer Rick Martin accepts a $15-million donation from Lisa and Stephanie Argyros on behalf of Argyros Family Foundation during the Nurse of the Year ceremony.
(Susan Hoffman)