It’s truly special when our patients believe so much in the care we provide that they become a Mountain Park employee. Ted Gutierrez, who has been a Mountain Park patient for 10 years, is just one of those examples.
The Road to Mountain Park
Ever since Ted was 16, he knew he wanted to work where he could help people. Early on, he was a rescue worker with the Civil Air Patrol.
“When my first rescue was done, I remember sitting with two of my friends talking about what happened,” he recalled. “I ended the day thinking I made a difference in someone’s life, and that was a feeling I wanted to hold onto for the rest of my life.”
This led Ted to work in the emergency room as an ER tech and also as an EMT. After two decades working in the hospital it was time for Ted to shift careers, but some things stood in his way. At this time, life for Ted wasn’t easy.
“I was 36-years old when I ended up homeless,” he shared. “For four-and-a-half years, I struggled with addiction. During that time, my addiction was more important to me than paying for rent. Tricia, who would later become my wife, was a big part of my life. Because she was dealing with depression, Tricia lived with her mother. Her mom fed me and allowed me to sleep, shower and rest for short periods of time at her home. Both women had a huge impact on me getting help but it was Tricia’s mom who pushed both of us to seek the help we needed.”
Looking to make a change, Ted learned about Mountain Park Health Center. He decided to go there in order to change his life around and improve his health.
“Mountain Park is the real deal in helping people,” Ted shared. “I know because they helped me all those years ago. I was a doctor’s worst nightmare. I didn’t want to listen or do anything that they wanted me to do. My health was declining rapidly. I came to Mountain Park and met with Dr. Rachel Sy. I will never forget how she got after me, but that is exactly what I needed. For the first time I felt like a doctor actually cared. The level of compassion was evident– and from that moment I knew Mountain Park was the place for me.”
Ted and Tricia turned their lives around together and got married in 2013.
“For both of us, changing our lives around was a great leap of faith,” he said. “We have been happily married ever since and we’re looking forward to celebrating our upcoming anniversary this May.”
Even after all the challenges he’s faced, Ted never lost his passion. When he returned to work—this time at McKesson—he knew something was still missing. He wanted to work where he could show others that no matter who you were or what your situation, you were a human being deserving to be cared for. Recalling what Mountain Park did for him, he joined our team.
Now, Ted enjoys being part of the Mountain Park team as a referral coordinator at our Tempe Clinic.
“I’m connecting people with resources,” he said. “People who need a cardiologist, for example, I’m able to get them to a cardiologist. I’m making sure that the patient is able to get to the appointment and gets everything he or she needs to stay healthy.”
Life Beyond Mountain Park
Ted is dedicated to his work, but he and his family always make time to volunteer and help those in need.
Ted remembers the kindness of others who connected him with resources and helped get him off the streets when he was homeless. He makes it a life priority to help our local homeless population by providing them with resources and education just like the people who once helped him. Over time, he has been able to help people settle into stable housing and improved conditions.
“You have to tap into the willingness to help because sometimes people are afraid to help,” he explained. “You don’t have to give money, you don’t have to be afraid. A simple care bag or information about an organization that is willing to help is enough. It takes one person with an ounce of compassion to make someone feel human. I’m trying to show the human side and connect our community.”
Ted wears his passion on his sleeve which serves as an inspiration to people everywhere he goes. It doesn’t matter if he is at work, church, the grocery store or speaking in a crowd—you can tell that he is living his life mission.
“No matter what he does, he is always putting his all into it and gives 100% to every task that he takes on,” Alexzandria Rossi, Medical Assistant at our Tempe Clinic said. “He is always ready to step up and help whenever he can.”
Thank you Ted for everything you do for Mountain Park and those in our community. You are changing lives, one person at a time!