For the past 27 years, Estrelita Lapurga has started her 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift at Kuakini’s Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) with prayers.
“Before I step out of the elevator to start my shift, I pray that I can take care of myself and the residents,” Estrelita said. “I tell the residents that I hope to see them again outside of Kuakini. I want to give them hope and reassurance so they will get better.”
Her strong compassion for the SNF residents resulted in loyalty and admiration from them and their families. Residents would ask for “Ester” (her nickname) to take care of them and family members would say “hello” when they saw her outside of Kuakini.
Ester’s genuine caring attitude helped her earn her second nomination for Employee of the Month. Her first nomination was in 2009.
“When we brought Mom from Kuakini’s acute care to the 6th floor of SNF, Ester made our family (three brothers) feel very confident and comfortable that we selected Hale Pulama Mau for Mom’s rehabilitation,” said her nominator Earl Miyamoto. “Our anxiety about Mom’s initial care was eased by Ester’s professionalism and caring manners. Thanks to Hale Pulama Mau for having a nurse such as Ester on the staff.”
“I make sure the residents are safe, comfortable and protected… The residents are our customers here, without them I will not get paid,” she said. “We have to treat them well. If we treat them well, they will (tell others about) us to the community and then more people will come here.”
Ester’s responsibilities as a Nurse Assistant include tube feeding, oral suctioning and wound dressing change, aside from basic bedside and hygiene care such as bathing, feeding, and fixing beds. She started as a Certified Nurse Assistant in the surgical unit of Kuakini Medical Center in 1980. In 1986, she transferred to KGC’s Skilled Nursing Facility.
“Kuakini is a wonderful place to work in. I like it because I meet people from different cultures and ethnicities,” Ester said. “I feel that if I leave this place, half of my heart would be gone because I will miss the people here.”
Ester recently retired from her position as a part-time interpreter for the Department of Health’s Bilingual Health Service, which she had worked at since 1992. During her spare time, she takes care of her 90-year-old mother, watches The Filipino Channel or movies with her husband, goes to the mall or catches up on her chores.