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Mother, daughter share calling to care for others

“Like mother, like daughter,” they say. That saying could not be truer of Debra Anttila and Danielle Rodriguez. The mother and daughter share quite a few similar qualities, chief among them a deep passion for serving and caring for others.

It’s that passion that has led them — each on a winding path — to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine, where they are proud to work today as patient care technicians.

For both mother and daughter, it’s a privilege to play a hand in the healing process, and a joy to do it just a few floors apart.

Debra’s Story: A life dedicated to patient care

Debra’s first career stop was cosmetology, but it wasn’t long until her younger sister, a nurse, convinced her to consider healthcare. She started out as an aide on the medical surgical floor at a nearby hospital and fell in love. She had found her life’s calling.

After graduating from nursing school as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN), Debra spent several decades caring for the elderly in assisted living, eventually working her way up into management.

“I loved what I did,” she said. “I absolutely loved it.”

In fact, she loved it so much that she missed it after retiring. Longing to regain that sense of purpose, Debra recently came out of retirement to continue living out her calling to care for others.

As a patient care technician, she arrives at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine at 5:30 a.m. to make sure all the rooms are set up for the day’s patients. When a patient comes in for surgery, Debra’s smiling face is what greets them in the waiting room.

“Explore."

She escorts each patient back and makes sure they are comfortable and relaxed as they prepare for surgery. It’s a busy job but it is the perfect fit for a self-described people person like Debra.

And according to Debra, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine is the perfect fit, too.

“When I walked in the doors, I knew that’s where I was supposed to be. I felt it,” she said.

Danielle’s Story: The calling that kept calling her back

Debra’s daughter, Danielle, experienced a similar thrill working her first job as a high school student at a nursing home in Minnesota. But after a back injury, her doctor told her she shouldn’t work in the medical field for a while.

After a few years working in cosmetology, she felt like the medical field was calling her back.

“I had only ever done healthcare,” she said. “I had to get back to that. It was on my heart.”

After moving to Texas, she did get back to healthcare — and even had plans to start nursing school in 2011. But her own health scare put a wrinkle in those plans.

“I can understand what they’re going through,” she said. “God uses me to help them keep fighting. It shows them if I can overcome this, they can, too.”

After experiencing severe headaches and problems with her vision and balance, Danielle was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Though facing this unknown was scary, Debra was by her side through it all. Their faith never wavered.

“If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it,” Danielle said.

Surgery removed the brain tumor but left Danielle to cope with headaches. She wasn’t able to work for several years until finally, she made it back to the medical field as a case manager for a drug trial. But it wasn’t quite the fulfillment of her calling; she wanted to take care of patients again.

On the way to and from work, she often drove by Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine and would tell herself, “One day I’m going to work there.”

She was right. Today, Danielle spends her days taking vitals, tending to patients and helping them with tasks like bathing, changing clothes and going to the bathroom. “Total patient care,” she called it.

Working on the neuro telemetry floor, she often comes into contact with people experiencing brain tumors and other similar conditions. She shares her own brain tumor experience with them to comfort and encourage in a way only she can.

“I can understand what they’re going through,” she said. “God uses me to help them keep fighting. It shows them if I can overcome this, they can, too.”

Danielle has also continued to pursue her nursing career ambitions that were derailed nearly 10 years ago because of her brain tumor diagnosis. She starts nursing school in January 2021. Danielle said she hopes this, too, gives people hope.

“I don’t want people to give up on their dreams because of a little speed bump in the road,” she said.

A family legacy of faithful service

Though they work a few floors apart, Danielle said it brings her joy to walk into the hospital and catch a glimpse of her mom’s smiling face calling patients back. The radiance on her face is proof that she is fulfilling her life’s passion — and enjoying every minute.

For both Debra and Danielle, this is not a job. It is truly a calling.

“When I’m on my way to work, I thank the Lord for my job and ask him to use me for his purpose,” Danielle said. “To touch whomever he wants me to touch that day.”

“If I can help somebody, I’m happy to do that. That’s what I want to do,” Debra said.

Find your own calling today by joining the Baylor Scott & White team.

About the author

Grace Glausier
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Grace Glausier is a senior digital engagement strategist for Baylor Scott and White Health. A graduate of Baylor University, she is passionate about connecting people through powerful stories and empowering individuals toward better health.

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Mother, daughter share calling to care for others