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5.3 Fort Mohave - Valley View announces 2010 Mercy Awards

Valley View Medical Center has named Robert Gaston of Needles as the recipient of the hospital’s 2010 Mercy Award. Gaston, Valley View’s chef and dietary supervisor, is also Valley View’s nominee for a national Mercy Award by LifePoint Hospitals, Inc.

At Valley View, the Mercy Award is the equivalent of being named employee of the year. He was one of seven employees nominated by physicians and staff. CEO Allen Peters noted that Gaston “inspires those around him to reach for a higher level of service to others. He is soft-spoken in nature but has the heart of a lion.”

The award recognizes one employee who best represents the spirit and values of parent company LifePoint’s founding chairman and CEO, the late Scott Mercy. Each LifePoint hospital designates one Mercy Award winner; an overall winner is selected from among four dozen hospitals and will be introduced at a ceremony during LifePoint’s senior leadership retreat next month in Colorado Springs.

According to Peters, Gaston donates his time and food to schools, PTA, Girl Scouts, his church, youth sports programs, Relay for Life and more … all in addition to feeding the patients, physicians, visitors and staff at Valley View. His nominations came from Valley View employees and physicians, but he also received letters of support from Mohave Valley Junior High’s music department (where he helped with a fundraising dinner) and even one of his food service vendors.

“Robert has dedicated himself not only to making Valley View a better place but also his hometown of Needles,” wrote one of the nominees. “When he isn’t in the kitchen at Valley View, he’s helping in a kitchen or behind a grill somewhere in the community for a good cause.” Peters added that when Valley View hosts an event such as a Chamber of Commerce mixer or a ribbon cutting ceremony many community leaders tell him what a positive impression was made because of Gaston’s dedication to make the hospital shine through its food.

Gaston was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan, the son of a Japanese mother and U.S. Marine Corps father. After high school he moved to Tokyo where he worked as a plasterer by day to attend chef school at night. He came to the U.S. 30 years ago and moved to Needles in 1997 where he joined the food service and dietary staff of Colorado River Medical Center. When Valley View opened eight years later he became chef at the new hospital. He has had almost 13 years of continuous service.

“I love living in Needles where people are very nice … not like a big city,” Gaston said. “And I love to come to work at Valley View.”

Coincidentally, Gaston’s oldest daughter Desiree was named co-valedictorian for this year’s graduating class at Needles High School.

Six other employees were nominated for Valley View’s 2010 Mercy Award: Dore Engstrom (pharmacy tech), Kim Hazleton (business office director), and registered nurses Erin Healey (surgical services director), Yvette Kersey (house supervisor), Regina Mingus ER), and Bill Yetter (ER).

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