Keeping It in the Family at Cedars-Sinai
Jul 06, 2022 Cedars-Sinai Staff
In the late 1970s, twin brothers Manuel and Francisco Vazquez established a grand family tradition when they started working for Cedars-Sinai in the Environmental Services department.
The two immigrants from the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua enjoyed careers spanning four decades at the medical center before retiring in 2016 (Francisco) and 2017 (Manuel). What's more, they were the first in a long line of relatives in the extended family to become Cedars-Sinai employees.
"It's something that not many people get to do, work with their siblings. I feel very fortunate because Jorge and I are very close."
The family's pioneer
Today, four members of the family still work at Cedars-Sinai full-time, and a fifth came back from retirement as a per diem employee. During a peak in the early 2000s, about a dozen family members were on the hospital's payroll, scattered in a variety of departments and roles.
The twins were well known on campus. On top of that, Manuel's wife, Luz Vazquez, retired as a logistics tech in the Comprehensive Transplant Center just months ago after 45 years at the medical center. She was a two-time winner of the annual President's Award.
"And I'm the vice president," Manuel jokes.
He also calls himself the family's pioneer—he was the first to get a job at Cedars-Sinai when he started in 1976.
Part of the family by marriage
Stacey Arredondo put together an unofficial tally showing that 13 members of the Vazquez-Arredondo-Romero clan have worked for Cedars-Sinai for a total of 319 years. She met Jorge at Cedars-Sinai 20 years ago, and within a year they were married.
When they first got acquainted, she says, "I was one of those people that said, 'Oh, you're related to so and so.'"
Although she became part of the family by marriage, Stacey says, she was quickly and fully embraced by the relatives. She has special memories of the many times when she would be spotted by one of the Vazquez twins on campus.
"They would yell across the street or yell in the hallway, 'Sobrina! Sobrina!'" Stacey says, using the Spanish word for "niece."
"They would always be so happy to see me," Stacey says. "When they retired, I missed hearing that."
Likewise, Jorge, a winner of the Employee of the Year award a half-dozen times, has enjoyed having family nearby during his years at Cedars-Sinai.
"I like knowing that my wife is right there if I need something," Jorge says.
Seeing relatives on campus
He feels the same about seeing his stepsister, Fabiola Romero.
"I'm 17 years older than her and I took care of her, so she's almost like my daughter," Jorge says. "I like seeing her at the medical campus. And then when my uncles worked at Cedars-Sinai, they were fun to be around."
Having a lot of relatives on campus was never a burden, Jorge says.
The youngest members of the extended family at Cedars-Sinai—Eli Vazquez, 32, and Fabiola Romero, 30—express similar feelings.
Sometimes when they used to bump into their older relatives on campus, Eli says, the family elders would "come over, squeeze our cheeks and embarrass us a bit. But it's all love. It's all part of being family."
A home away from home
With the relatives on campus, "knowing that they're there and present just kind of gives me a certain level of comfort or just feeling at home," Eli says. "It felt like a home away from home for me."
The web of family at Cedars-Sinai extends a bit further for Eli than for others in the Vazquez-Arredondo-Romero clan. Eli has a cousin on his mother's side who also used to work for Cedars-Sinai, and a niece on his wife's side is a current employee.
Fabiola is one of the family's big success stories. After participating in a Cedars-Sinai volunteer program, she started working at the medical center in 2010 in a part-time clerical job. She later moved into a full-time position and continued her education, earning associate's and bachelor's degrees in nursing.
Fabiola landed a nursing job at Cedars-Sinai in 2017 and now is in the Imaging department. She's also studying for a master's degree to become a nurse practitioner.
Helping the same patient
Although Fabiola, Jorge and Stacey all work in the Imaging department, they report to different people and generally have no professional contact. Once in a while, though, Fabiola and Jorge have a chance to help the same patient.
"It's something that not many people get to do, work with their siblings," Fabiola says. "I feel very fortunate because he and I are very close."
When she started working at Cedars-Sinai, Fabiola says, it was both comforting and intimidating to be around family. She put pressure on herself not to do anything that would let her close-knit family down.
These days, Fabiola says, she is proud, as the daughter of Mexican immigrants, to have gotten this far in her career and education and to be the family's first nurse. She is gratified that her parents are able to see that their struggle in migrating to another country has not been in vain.
"They've been able to establish a foundation for their kids to be able to thrive in this country," Fabiola says.
The next generation of Cedars-Sinai staff
Will there be a new wave of family members who go to work at Cedars-Sinai? There are no immediate candidates in sight, although Jorge and Stacey have a 17-year-old son, and Eli has a daughter, 8, and a son, 5.
But given her family's track record, "I definitely wouldn't count it out," Fabiola says.