May 20, 2019

Watch! San Diego Padres Nurse Night 2019: Nurse Hero Awards

Watch! San Diego Padres Nurse Night 2019: Nurse Hero Awards

Cover photo courtesy of Lukas Huerta Photography

The San Diego Padres teamed up with and special guest Nurse Blake to host an EPIC Nurse Night on May 3, 2019, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Our 10 Nurse Heroes were honored on the field in front of the entire stadium! 

Pictured: Zoe Reza, Janneth Gaspar, Nicole Baca, Nurse Blake, Amy Heiss, Maury Scott, Daniell Lorden, Asma Inge-Hanif, Denise Weber, Jacci Weiss

Photo courtesy of Lukas Huerta Photography

Special thanks to Jaanuu Scrubs for dressing the Nurse Heroes in custom scrubs!

Nurse Blake was in attendance! 

Photo courtesy of Lukas Huerta Photography

CONGRATULATIONS to Nurse Amy Heiss who threw the FIRST pitch at the pre-game ceremony during Nurse Night 2019!

Amy is a nursing professor and a large group of her students attended the game to support their favorite Teacher!

Chaplain (and Nurse Hero!) Asma Inge-Hanif surprised her 90-year-old Father at the game - he didn't know she was going to be honored on the field. It was a touching moment and he was a very proud Father!

All 10 Nurse Heroes received the following awards:

  • Recognition by the team on the field!
  • 2 game tickets!
  • Personalized Jaanuu Scrubs 


Amy Heiss, MSN, RN, C-NPT

First Pitch Winner! 

Amy Heiss’s patients have spanned from brand-new babies struggling into the world to great-great-grandparents facing the end of their time on earth, and everyone in between. She has approached them all with the dedication.

“She always had the attitude of wanting to take care of the sickest patients, says her nominator: “If there was a challenge, she ran toward it, always ready to lend a hand.”

A nurse for over 27 years, Heiss has worked in many different fields, from oncology, emergency, operating, ICU, pediatric critical care transport and education.

When she wasn’t working long shifts at the hospital, Heiss was sharing her nurse skills as a volunteer with local organizations such as the American Red Cross and the San Diego Mountain Rescue Team. In these efforts, she sacrificed her time off work to make her skills available to her community, sometimes in harsh conditions.

After 27 years of acute care, mostly in Critical Care Transport and the ICU, she decided it was time to share all the knowledge and experience she had gained and now teaches nursing at San Diego State University School of Nursing. It is a great way to continue putting her knowledge and skills to work, and benefit others. Her students learn from her experience, patience, and ability to make the complex simple.

“Nursing is her calling, search and rescue was her passion, but giving is who she is,” her nominator concludes.

Nicole Baca, BSN, RN, PHN

Nicole Baca—a Registered Nurse at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry facility in San Diego—represents all that it means to be a nurse, from “small” gestures like helping an elderly inmate bathe to heroic gestures like being one of two nurses a suicidal woman would trust. 

“Nicole has wanted to be a nurse ever since I can remember,” says her mother, who nominated her. “I managed a local doctor's office when she was 4 or 5 years old and she would come to work with me. She has always felt comfortable in a medical setting. I was not surprised when she told me she was going to nursing school.”

Her mother describes how Baca has demonstrated her commitment to caring for others even from her early days as a new graduate. Fresh out of nursing school, she spent her first year and a half working as a hospice nurse at the bedside of those in their final days. She was then offered a job with the Sheriff's Department, where “she knew that she could help these women who were at some of the lowest points of their lives,” her mom says. 

Even outside of working full-time, Baca takes care of her grandmother, who has Parkinson's disease and dementia. She also cares for her mother, who is recovering from open heart surgery.

“Her co-workers and patients have nothing but amazing things to say about her,” her mom adds. “The nursing field is lucky to have someone like her. Her compassion for helping others shows in a special way. She has definitely lived up to her calling. She is a prime example of what the essence of being a nurse should be. She truly touches the lives of her patients. I trust her with my life.”

Oh, and that patient who Baca helped bathe? She was so moved by Baca’s gesture that she even paid her the ultimate compliment—by cutting her hair to match Baca’s hairstyle.

Captain Maury Scott

A veteran nurse of over 20 years at the Burn ICU at The University of California, San Diego, Scott serves his patients and his country and is currently deployed in Afghanistan as an Air Force nurse. Though he was nearing retirement with the UCSD, he still decided to take on a new role in protecting our country.  

His nominator says Scott is a supportive mentor, both to his veteran colleagues and to new nurses joining the unit. Because UCSD is a Level 1 trauma hospital that houses the only burn center in San Diego County, working in the Burn ICU can be extremely challenging physically, mentally and emotionally, however, Scott is able to excel in every aspect of his role. 

As just one example, Scott’s nominator remembers doing a dressing change on a 90%TBSA burn patient when a provider walked in and started cleaning the burn after the nurses had already done so. “Even though the patient was intubated and sedated, we could tell that the pain was excruciating by the way he was grimacing when he was being touched,” the nominator describes. “If at that moment Scott wouldn’t have stopped the provider and said firmly, ‘You need to stop what you’re doing, he needs more pain medicine,’ then the provider would have kept going and the patient would have had to suffer through the pain. At that moment I realized that standing up for your patient means you stand up to anyone to protect them and keep them safe.” 

“He has taught me that even with 20 years of experience, there is still a lot we can learn and do for our community,” his nominator adds. 

Jacci Weiss, BSN, RN

A survivor of the massacre in Las Vegas on 10/1/17, Jacci first decided to become a nurse after becoming a single mother to twins. Her own pregnancy was not easy and she faced many months of bed rest, which led to her decision to eventually choose to work in the Perinatal Special Care Unit at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital in San Diego, caring for high-risk antepartum patients and their unborn babies. Her patients and/or their babies have complications that require them to be hospitalized for days or months during their pregnancy. Some are facing their own health issues in pregnancy, some are there because their baby will need life-saving surgeries immediately upon birth, and others are there trying to prevent their baby from being born too early.  

Weiss’s nominator describes her as an amazing nurse, mother, wife, and friend. 

“She has a genuine heart and a nurse that is always thinking of everyone else,” her nominator says. “She can cheer you up and make you feel like you are the most important person in her life within the first five minutes. She is also pretty freaking funny! She inspires me to pull through those crappy days and smile.”

“I love what I do because I get to build relationships with my patients over time and can connect with my patients on a personal level,” Weiss says. “I know the fear my patients are experiencing. I wanted to help care for and give hope to the women that were in the same situation as me and feel continuously rewarded by my work.”   

Zoe Reza, LVN

Short Stay Observation Unit, Sharp Grossmont Hospital

Nurse Reza is the perfect example of how kindness can make a difference when you least expect it. When a young female patient in shackles was brought into Reza’s unit accompanied by Sheriffs who didn’t exactly demonstrate kindness, Reza took the opposite approach. She offered only tender words, caring hands, and of course, lots of pudding. 

As it would turn out, the patient was a sex trafficking victim and needed help. “Zoe's kindness let her open up,” says her nominator. “I could go on and on. Nurses rock!”

Chaplain Asma Inge-Hanif, RN, ANP, CNM, M.S.

Women & Children Services, Domestic Violence Advocate & Service Provider

As the Director & Co-Founder of IBM/Al-Nisaa Healthy Solutions Medical Center, Hanif has been answering the call of people in need for over 30 years—especially the homeless and uninsured—as a nurse and champion for the underprivileged. She also happens to be the daughter of John T. Inge, a native of Danville Virginia, currently residing in San Diego, California and one of the last surviving original Montford Point Marines, a man who is the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and in whose honor her organization is named.

Hanif originally decided to get into healthcare as a response to her maternal grandmother, who worked as a domestic for a physician but, because she lacked healthcare, died from a preventable condition. When she studied nursing at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she saw that doctors were not always sensitive to the needs and modesty concerns of Muslim women, often unintentionally.

She believes that every man, woman, and child has the right to receive quality care in a dignified manner, and to be assisted in the achievement of optimal health and well-being, regardless of race, creed, or socio-economic level. Her quest to help has driven her to establish several community outreach events, such as volunteer health services in public schools, providing health services to the homeless, women in shelters and group homes and children in foster care, and performing physicals to the mentally and physically challenged that allows them to participate in the Special Olympics. She provides free blood pressure screenings in community centers for the elderly and provides first aid stations at community health events. 

When the city canceled nurse contracts in Baltimore inner-city schools, she volunteered to provide physicals so Maryland students could stay in school, and off the streets. Hanif founded “Healthy Solutions,” clinic that serves the needy of all faiths. In conjunction with a national event, “Red Nose Day,” she provides healthy snacks, school supplies, dental hygiene kits to 325 elementary/middle within a Maryland inner city impoverished neighborhood and toys to all of those who have made the honor roll in their school.

As part of her “Love Thy Neighbor” initiative, she coordinates a back-to-school health fair, a local food pantry and “Chili Bowl Sunday,” where she serves hot bowls of chili to homeless on the streets of Baltimore, passes out cold weather clothing and toiletries and performs health screenings. She sets up a restaurant-style near Fallsway Ave bridge underpass in Downtown Baltimore to 'serve'—not 'feed'—those affected by homelessness.

In 2008, she received a commendation from the Mayor of Baltimore for her work with the homeless population. In 2014, she was recognized by the Mayor of Baltimore, the Senate and the Baltimore Council for her Chili Bowl Sundays, now 20 years running.

During the riots in Baltimore, when a mother and her 7-year-old special needs son watched their house burn down, Hanif prepared care packages with food and store gift cards. “The most common inaccuracy regarding homelessness is that it will never happen to me,” she says. 

Through scholarships, in May 2014, she graduated from Hartford Seminary with a Master’s Degree in Muslim-Christian Relations and after completing two years of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, she obtained her certificate in Chaplaincy and established a Refugee & Domestic Violence Ministry to provide health services, counseling, and spiritual revitalization. She has received training as well as certification in Disaster Relief/Preparedness through FEMA. She has worked tirelessly caring for the homeless, refugees, trafficking victims and women victims of domestic violence. 

Through her organization, she has established holistic health service programs for the underserved and the uninsured including health exams, STD/cancer screening, and education, family planning/GYN, case management, targeting at-risk populations; adolescent and minorities, vision and hearing testing, adolescent pregnancy prevention or prenatal checks. She also supervises at-risk youth in residential treatment and public school settings and conducts seminars/classes on health and well-being and childbirth. 

Hanif does all of the work she does through her organization without funding, says her nominator. “Neither does she take a personal salary for herself, as she believes that this is the only way to maximize the numbers being served,” her nominator adds.

Daniel Lorden, RN, BSN, CCRN

Daniel is a veteran, pilot, husband, brother, friend, and CCRN ICU nurse, who decided to become a nurse after serving 8 years in the US Army. Daniel joined the Army after graduating high school in 2005, leaving his home in Carlsbad. Initially trained as an Airborne Infantryman, Daniel was selected as one of the youngest Green Beret Medics in history. After receiving his Green Beret as a US Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant in 2008, Daniel deployed three times supporting US contingency operations. As a Special Forces Medical Sergeant, Daniel trained foreign medical personnel and provided medical care to both US and indigenous peoples. Later, Daniel served as an instructor in the Special Operations Combat Medic Course at Ft.Bragg.

After marrying his now wife, Beth, Daniel left the US Army in pursuit of a Bachelors of Science in Nursing through the Veteran’s Access Program at UNC-Greensboro in North Carolina. He graduated in the top 10% of his class from UNC-G and has worked as a nurse in the CardioThoracic Surgery ICU of University of Maryland Medical Center. He currently works at UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center ICU.

In his free time, Daniel enjoys flying single-engine airplanes, cooking, road cycling, spending time with his wife and family, and taking his pit-mix Luna to the dog beach in Del Mar. Happily relocated back to North County San Diego after 13 years on the east coast, Daniel is excited to be able to cheer on his San Diego Padres in person!

“Please join me in honoring Daniel Lorden for his service to our community, our nation, and the world,” says his nominator. 

Ann Malo, Burn ICU, UCSD Regional Burn Center

Malo is a fearless charge nurse and breast cancer survivor who returned to work after treatment with the same heart and passion for her patients she had when she first started on the unit 20 years ago.

Malo’s nominator describes a situation on the unit when a child was brought in who was intentionally burned and critically ill with little family support. Malo stepped in and became the biggest advocate for this child, creating a healing environment for the child that was as normal as possible. 

According to her nominator, whenever Malo is in charge, the nurses know she has their backs and is there to lead and support them in whatever capacity she can, whether it be encouraging positive inter-departmental relationships, advocating for their patients, or just being a listening ear.

Last month, Malo and a group of coworkers traveled to Akure, Nigeria to teach the women how to do monthly self-breast examinations. The mission trip inspired her to found Sharing Hope, an organization which does yearly medical mission trips to communities around the world.  

Overall, Malo has a special heart for her organization, its leaders and her peers, as well as the specialized population of burn patients.

When thinking about Ann and her commitment to her field, her nominator says the following quote comes to mind: "This is a club of mostly wounded healers—it takes someone who has experienced brokenness to know how to heal brokenness. This is why you know how to interpret, anticipate and heal pain because you have experienced it. This is why you know how to love deeper and hope more than the average person. This is why you are so uniquely special and this is why you belong in this profession.”

Denise Weber, RN, CNOR

OR Nurse Manager at Alvarado Hospital

In her eighteen years at San Diego's Alvarado Hospital, this Montana-transplant charge RN has become the life and breath of the operating room. According to her nominator, Denise’s experience surpasses most surgeons, but perhaps even more important, she is dearly loved by all who work with her.  

The ultimate team player, Weber has been named, “The Hardest Worker in the Room” and even has the T-shirt to prove it. Her advocacy for patients and families is a strength all its own, and her support and fairness with her staff maintain a non-clique, non-bullying, pro-staff atmosphere.

As one example of the way she supports her staff, her nominator recalls a time just after Christmas 2018 when Weber found one of her own staff members, a surgical technician, in critical distress, down on the floor in cardiac arrest. Because of the holiday, there was just a skeleton crew on shift.

Weber began CPR herself, a code was called and after 90 minutes of resuscitation, the surgical technician was transferred to ICU. Days later, his family removed him from life support and his organs were procured on New Year's Eve. Emotions were high in the OR and Denise was once again a source of strength to all who are involved.

“She is beloved by her staff, and she truly deserves this wonderful chance to be recognized,” her nominator says. 

Janneth Gaspar, BSN, RN

Gaspar works in the San Diego County jail system as a charge nurse. Her career as a nurse has spanned decades, beginning when she graduated with her BSN from the Philippines in 1983. Following graduation, she worked in Saudi Arabia for two years. After, she completed an exam to come to America and care for AIDS patients for six years in New York. Following a move to California, she continued her career by working in nursing homes and with ventilator patients for six years. 

After making the decision to work in the jail setting, Gaspar was chosen as Employee of the Month after working only two years. She has now been working night shifts with the Sheriff County jail for 15 years. “I have always given the best for my patients and worked well with my co-workers,” Gaspar describes. 

Working in jails can be an extremely emotionally draining task. Nurses must deal with the medical problems of inmates, as well as sometimes manipulative and hostile treatment. Despite the challenges, Gaspar is able to provide a loving and safe environment for each and every inmate patient she encounters.

“She works tirelessly to care for her inmate patients, in an often thankless position,” her nominator adds. “Not only does she work the night shift, which is brutal in and of itself, but she comes in every day with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.” 

To add to the task of caring for her patients, she is also a charge nurse, meaning she also oversees operations and staff every night. According to her nominator, Janet cares for her inmate patients, saves their lives in emergency situations, and is a joy to work around: “She truly is an amazing nurse and works so hard here in jail, and I believe she deserves to be recognized for her hard work.” 

Nurse Hero selection timeline! 

  • March 23, 2019 - nominations close
  • April 6, 2019 - top 10 announced and voting opens
  • April 20, 2019 - voting ends
  • April 22, 2019 - Nurse Hero announced
  • Official rules