Gio Martinez is a Medical Lab Technician who brings his gratitude and sense of family with him every day. And in turn, his work at Allina Health has instilled in him a larger sense of purpose.
“70-80% of the diagnostics that (the doctors) do are based on lab work.,” he says with pride. “They would be guessing without the lab.” He jokingly admits that he’d come to work even if he weren’t getting paid for it. But his love for the job isn’t entirely about the work—it’s about the people working alongside him.
“You know, these people have embraced me… Without knowing me when my wife got pregnant, they threw me a baby shower. They’ve accepted me and shown me love that… it’s really impressive to me,” he says. “And that’s what I love about this place, you know? It’s the people that I’m dealing with have such dedication, such commitment and such love for each other.”
Lest anyone get too rosy of a picture, he adds, “Don’t get me wrong, we get on each other’s cases, we gotta hold each other accountable. But at the end of the day, you know, I know I have some friends out there. And to me, at this point in my life, that’s the best part about life. Those friendships, those relationships that you’re making, you know? And yeah, that’s what keeps me coming here.”
The importance of relationships is something Gio understands intimately. It’s a lesson he was forced to learn the hard way, at an age far too young.
“War started in El Salvador in about 1980,” he explains. “And we migrated here in April of ’86. I was about seven-and-a-half, I think. It’s so tough when you have to leave everything that you know. Come to a place where, you know, you don’t even know the language, and start from nothing.” But the worst part came when he and his family crossed the border. Gio was forced to separate from his mother. “I never thought I would see my mom again.”
It’s a thought that catches him, the feeling as fresh as the day it happened. “Sorry, I just, uh…” he waits for the wave to pass. “That’s, I think, when I lost my boyhood, because after that I wasn’t afraid of anything. So I’m lucky I still have my mom in my life.” But another thought hits him, and his voice catches again. “I think the worst day of my life is gonna be when I lose her.”
Gio’s parents faced some of the greatest hardships to bring their family to the U.S., and the example they set is something he never forgets. “My parents gave up everything. Like I said, I’m forever grateful. They’ve shown me that if you put your mind and your means (to it), you could do anything.”
Jen has been with Allina Health for eighteen years. Today, she manages Pulmonary Rehab, Respiratory Therapy and Patient Transport at Mercy Hospital – Unity Campus. As popular and respected as she’s become by her staff and colleagues, Jen has a wholly separate fan-base outside of work.