Cornelius Registered Nurse Guillermo Ayala Valencia is a pretty quiet guy, so when a patient he’d never seen before gave him a big hug and broke down into tears, he simply said, “It’s a funny way to meet someone for the first time.”
Guillermo only knew the woman’s voice. A few weeks before, she was enroute to Cornelius Wellness Center and called in complaining of a severe headache and vomiting. Guillermo took the call.
“It was difficult because her presentation — headache and vomiting — could be anything,” he said. But something kept nagging at him. “I had a gut feeling something wasn’t right,” he said.
He listened. The woman, in her 20s, was in severe pain and her headache was getting worse after starting over night. “There was something in her voice,” he said. She told him she was driving 20 miles to VG instead of a closer clinic because she trusts Dr. Lyn Jacobs, but Guillermo told her to turn around and go to an emergency room.
“I was thinking we have really great doctors here, and we will treat the symptoms, but I think there is something else that is causing this presentation,” Guillermo said.
He was right. The woman made it to an emergency room and collapsed to the floor. She was later diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, which doctors have since removed.
When they finally met in person, the woman told Guillermo how grateful she was for his advice. “She reminded me how important it is the work we do,” he said. Guillermo said he’s relieved the woman, a single mom, didn’t have cancer. “I was really happy for her family, for her and for her child. It is rewarding,” he said.
Guillermo came to the U.S. on a student visa from Mexico. He completed his LPN and RN requirements in Illinois and has worked as an RN for two years. He joined VG only six months ago.