From teenage volunteer to rehab director
Maria Tundidor, rehab director, Palmetto General Hospital
Maria Tundidor was just 15 years old when she started volunteering at Palmetto General Hospital before becoming a weekend transporter while working to get into college. After she was accepted into the physical therapy program at Florida International University, she left the area for 3 1/2 years.
After school, she knew Palmetto was where she wanted to be and came back as a staff therapist. A year ago, nearly 25 years after that first day of volunteering, she became director of the rehabilitation department.
"It is a second home to me," Maria says. "Patients come here, and what I hear repeatedly is that it is a sense of family. They feel very comfortable when they walk in the door. They know the physician who has been here a while, and they know the staff. The familiar faces have a lot to do with it."
She says that over the years one thing she has noticed is that the busier the hospital gets, the more involved the staff is with the patients. She also sees how important it is for Palmetto to educate the growing community on all of the hospital offers.
"There is more one-on-one time now with the patients and therapists, so they get more specialized and individualized care," Maria says. "It is a very enriching experience to see how growth and change affect our day-to-day operations, and to see how the community is affected as well."