Contributing to every level of care: Our Asian American and Pacific Islander community

Illustration of pineapples and flowers celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Celebrating a few of the individuals who contribute to patient care at Boston Children's in essential ways. (Image: Adobe Stock; Illustration, David Chrisom, Boston Children's)

People come to Boston Children’s Hospital to receive care from some of the best clinicians in the world. Yet the safe, nurturing environment that greets patients and families is the work of an extensive team.

The Environmental Services team, for instance, works tirelessly to ensure every area of the hospital remains clean and welcoming. The Food Services team provides nourishment for patients, families, and staff with a wide range of dietary needs.

These dedicated teams include many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Here we celebrate a few of the individuals who contribute to patient care in essential ways.

Wilfredo (Willy) Hernandez, Food Services

Willie Hernandez in a white chef's jacket, smiling outside with flowers in the background.
Lead cook in Boston Children’s Waltham facility, Willy grew up with good food and people who loved to prepare it.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I help direct eight kitchen employees in the Waltham facility — it has been my honor to lead this team over the years. Our day begins by fixing breakfast for the main cafeteria, as well as preparing individualized trays for inpatients, making sure to accommodate every child’s dietary needs. Then we begin cooking the soups, deli specials, and entrée specials for our lunch service.

Whether a patient has a food allergy, special diet, or another dietary need, I’m very careful when I prepare meals to ensure everyone who eats here can enjoy a delicious meal that is safe for them.

Can you share a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I grew up around good food with people who love to prepare it. Cooking with many generations of family members always brought joy to our household. I graduated from college in the Philippines with a Bachelor of Arts in Food Technology. 

I would say Filipino cooking is a blend of Spanish and Asian styles. We love spices and seasoned fresh foods, and that influences some of the dishes I create today.

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of my Philippine heritage. We are a resilient, hardworking, caring community of people who truly watch out for each other. I always send money home to support my family and many times they use the money to help younger family members attend college and find a better way of life.

Dinh Nguyen, Environmental Services

Dihn Ngyuen of Boston Children's stands smiling on a family trip White House in the background.
Dinh’s upbringing makes him energetic and hardworking. He channels much of that energy into helping keep patients safe.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

The work I do helps keep our patients safe from bacteria and other germs. My duties include taking care of the lobby of Boston Children’s main campus: cleaning the tracks, dusting the vents, cleaning stainless steel surfaces, sweeping and mopping the floor, and most importantly, disinfecting. I also work in outpatient and inpatient clinical areas.

Can you share a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I am Vietnamese. I would say this makes me energetic, sentimental, and hardworking.

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I am very proud of our soccer team. The players remind me of how Vietnam takes teamwork very seriously and how hard the people work to get where they need to be.

Jing Wiita, Food Services

Jing Witta in one of the purple booths in Boston Children's Food Court.
Jing likes building connections with customers of the Guilt-Free Grill and knowing she is providing them healthy meals.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I cook and serve our patients, families, visitors, and employees at the Guilt-Free Grill in the Food Court of Boston Children’s main campus. I want everyone who comes to my station — patients, families, employees — to enjoy the healthy meals we prepare and serve. At the Guilt-Free Grill, our very popular chicken tenders are air-fried, and the vegetables are baked and prepared using oils instead of butter to keep them allergen-free.

I like building connections with our customers. It makes me happy to serve them and know I’m preparing a meal that they will sit down and enjoy!

Can you share a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I’m originally from Shenyang, China. Shenyang is the capital and largest city in the Liaoning Province of China. I came to the U.S. in 2002 with my daughter, who was 17 at the time. After we arrived, I wanted to stay. I enjoyed the freedom and wanted my daughter to experience more of this. I also wanted to travel and learn more about the U.S. We both became U.S. citizens in 2009. My daughter was able to finish high school and go to college and now works at a bank.  

What part of your culture and background are you most proud of?

I really enjoy the art, dance, and music of my culture. When I was growing up, my father made furniture in a factory and later became an inspector in the same factory. My mother cared for the children in the factory day care center and did the cooking for our family. No one else was allowed in the kitchen. I started cooking after I was married and learned how much I loved seeing people being happy when they were eating and enjoying their food.

Wilson Wong, Environmental Services

Wilson Wong of Boston Children's environmental services team stands smiling against a white wall.
Growing up in a multicultural community has made it easy for Wilson to get along with others and have confidence in himself.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I work the night shift in Environmental Services at Boston Children’s in Waltham. Whatever I’m doing — cleaning, sanitizing, or buffing and waxing floors — I do it with patients and their families in mind. When I leave at the beginning of the morning shift, I know that I have made those areas ready and safe for patients and staff to use throughout the day. My work provides a clean and germ-free environment, just as Boston Children’s should be. 

Can you share a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I’m Canadian-born Chinese and grew up in a multicultural community in Montreal, Quebec. Growing up in Montreal, hockey was an everyday culture and religion for me. I had friends of various backgrounds including French, Italian, Greek, Jewish, and Polish. 

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I grew up in a multicultural community. We all got along. I guess that’s what makes it seem so easy for me to work with others and understand differences. Although I didn’t follow many traditional Chinese customs, I’m proud that my background enabled me to cope and adapt to new surroundings and have confidence in myself.

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