Emergency Nurses Week – The People Behind Our Patients

Dedicated. Compassionate. A lifesaver. There are not enough words to describe the exceptional type of person that chooses to be an Emergency Room nurse. It takes a special individual that wants to help someone, usually a stranger, when they are sick or injured. Easily, ER nurses are superheroes in scrubs.

Nurses in the Neighbors family make a difference in their patient’s lives each day and are a valued member of their team. We are honored to share the stories of some of our outstanding ER Nurses. We are thankful for all they do and that they choose to share their talents with Neighbors. Our nurses are part of the Neighbors Difference.

RN Karen Ashley_miniKAREN in Texarkana

A positive attitude and sunny disposition is how Facility Director Blake George describes Karen. She has been an ER nurse for nearly 11 years but is new to freestanding ERs and to the Neighbors team.

Karen feels communicating with the patient and their family, in terms they can understand, is pivotal in her role of alleviating fear and trauma in an emergency situation. That’s because she has been on the other side of the conversation.

“I made the decision to become an emergency nurse in 1999 following the traumatic event of my mother nearly dying from an aneurysm,” Karen said. “I helplessly watched the medical staff work to save my mother’s life while trying to explain to me what was going on in medical terms that I did not understand. I swore then I would help people who were in crisis understand exactly what was going on with their loved ones or themselves in a way that they could understand.”

This outgoing single parent of four credits her parents for the many valuable life lessons they taught her growing up and how she sees everyone as a part of a bigger family.

“I choose to work at Neighbors Emergency Center because we treat our patients like we would want a family member to be treated from the time they walk through the door all the way to the time we walk them out to their car. I love my job and feel in my heart that it is my life’s calling to be a nurse and care for each patient as I would my own mother” said Karen.


RN Eddy EspinosaEDDY in Austin

Receiving the gift of sight made such an impact on Eddy’s life that he dedicated himself to giving to others as others gave to him.

“At a very young age I was diagnosed with a progressive eye disease called Keratoconus,” explained the Austin resident. “Twice a year I was fitted with corrective lenses due to the deterioration of my vision. By the time I reached high school, my sight had degraded so much that the only treatment option was corneal transplants”.

But growing up in a large, low-income family didn’t make Eddy’s necessary surgery a possibility. That was until the Knights of Columbus and Ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Rock stepped in and donated the surgery to Eddy. It was that act of kindness and generosity that made a huge impact on him.

“I chose nursing because it is a priceless profession that allows me to give freely the gifts of love and compassion to others while they are in their time of need.”

Eddy’s Facility Director Michelle Tribble says she sees that dedication in all that Eddy does for Neighbors. “Eddy is dedicated to every aspect of being an RN. He takes pride in his work and gives so much of himself in the care of his patients. We are thrilled he is part of the Neighbors family in Austin.”



RN Mark BarnesMARK in Brownsville

After being an EMT for the Cochise County Rescue Team in high school and then nursing in surgical and intensive care units, Mark found his niche in the ER.

“When I first graduated with my Nursing Degree, working in an Emergency Department wasn’t an option. But when an ER position was offered to me, I took it and knew right away I had found my perfect fit. I have worked in the ER ever since,” Mark said.

Thirty years of nursing experience later, Mark is excited to be part of the Neighbors Difference.

“When Neighbors Emergency Center opened in the Rio Grande Valley, I figured this would be a great way to continue my Emergency nursing career. Neighbors gives me the opportunity to provide the care to my patients I have always strived to achieve. I now practice Emergency nursing in an environment where I am not only allowed the time to provide excellent care, but I work with patients that are willing to learn and participate in their care.”

This married father with a 13-year-old daughter still enjoys the water and likes to fish when his schedule allows. Mark is also a certified scuba diver at the Master Diver level.



RN Michelle HernandezMICHELLE in Amarillo

This is not the first time Michelle has been spotlighted for her outstanding nursing skills. In 2016, she was recognized as one of the “Top 25 Nurses in the Texas Panhandle” by the 25 Great Panhandle Nurses Review Panel.

After 24 years in Nursing, Michelle’s experience ranges from the ER in a Level 1 Trauma Center, to working in the coronary care and intensive care units, to post-operative surgery and Hospice care. Michelle has seen it all. But she found her home at Neighbors.

Facility Director Josh Bailey explained Michelle as “a nurse that exhibits compassionate qualities by making all patients feel calm and at ease. Michelle is able to comfort a frightened child while simultaneously calming their distraught parents.”

“I have been blessed with a wide variety of experience to draw from when I care for my patients,” said the mother of four adult children. “With the changes in healthcare in recent years, I have found Neighbors’ patient focused care in line with my personal values. We strive to treat each patient as family. I truly love being a part of making a difference in people’s lives and Neighbors makes that not only possible, but easy.”

In her spare time, Michelle has begun Flight Nursing to “up her game” and keep current on skills. When she is home, she and her family enjoy gathering friends at her Barndominium where they often cookout, watch the beautiful Panhandle sunsets and sing.

“I am, and will always be, an ER nurse and for that I am truly blessed.”

RN David Murillo_miniDAVID in Pearland

Taking care of people is all David knows. He became an ER Tech one week after his eighteenth birthday and has not looked back. Starting a nursing career almost 10 years ago, David brought his talents to Neighbors because he finds great satisfaction in taking care of people.

“I became an ER nurse because, as cliché as it sounds, I truly enjoy taking care of people in their time of need and to see them get better,” said the father of three. “I chose Neighbors because I felt like the values and purpose for making lives better were in line with mine.”

“I enjoy giving our patients the best care possible. Neighbors gives me the resources and leadership to do so and it values its employees, and we pass that on to our patients.”

Married to his middle school sweetheart, David and his wife have the occasional date night when time allows around their children’s swim and baseball practices. “I have a simple life but a great one. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

It is that attitude that has brought the spotlight to him.

“David is always upbeat, positive and has a natural way of placing patients at ease,” stated Facility Director Tina Levert. “He is extremely trustworthy, knowledgeable and genuine in his approach in delivering consistent healthcare to our patients. David is an excellent nurse.”

RN Sarah SargalskiSARAH in Kerrville

It was one of Sarah’s high school teachers, who was also a nurse, that encouraged her to pursue nursing. Sarah has worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse, a traveling nurse and worked with wounded warriors in Washington D.C. But the majority of her career has been spent helping those who desperately need it in the Emergency Room.

“I enjoy working in the ER because there is always a variety of situations you encounter; no two days are the same in the ER,” Sarah said.

It is that personal connection and passion for knowledge has led Sarah to earn her Master of Science in Nursing Degree and she looks forward to teaching and inspiring the next generation of nurses in America.

Sarah joined the Neighbors family in November 2016 at Neighbors Emergency Center West Warwick in Rhode Island. Though that center was later closed, Sarah was welcomed to Texas and joined the Neighbors Kerrville clan. The Texas hill country has been the perfect spot for Sarah, her husband and their dog to enjoy the great outdoors.




RN Ira Bubba SkirlockIRA “BUBBA” in Tyler

Sometimes a personal tragedy can not only change us, but redirect our life’s path. A traumatic motorcycle accident in 1986 did just that to Bubba. It was the care and compassion he received from the ER staff that got him back on his feet.

“I knew from that point I wanted to provide the same comfort, compassion and reassurance to others that was given to me,” Bubba explained. “So, the ER became my passion, the pursuit to do everything within my abilities to make each ER patient’s life better with my words and actions. By doing this I have a validation in my life that I cannot put into words.”

“Bubba has the ability to form a positive connection with almost everyone he meets, and truly personifies a servant heart,” stated Facility Director Robert Collyer. “His years of experience help put his patients and families at ease, but he still strives to improve his knowledge by returning to school. He will complete his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing this semester with Houston Baptist University, and plans to continue toward a Master’s Degree.”

Married for many years and the father to two adult children and grandfather to three, Bubba was excited to move his career to Neighbors.

“I came to Neighbors when we opened to have the opportunity to experience ER medicine in an environment I knew very little about. But the freestanding ER is exciting and I love playing a part of giving the best personal emergency care. It’s part of what sets Neighbors a part from competitors and hospital ERs.”


RN Whitney GeorgeWHITNEY in Crosby

“I was a pre-med student at the University of Houston Clear Lake in 2001 when my father became ill from liver failure,” Whitney begins. “I spent most of my evenings down at UTMB with him and was so impressed with the nursing staff and how caring and compassionate they were, to not only my father, but to our entire family. That experience forever changed my career path and I decided to pursue a career in nursing.”

But it was the fast pace of the ER that Whitney gravitated to. She knew she could make a difference in people’s lives when they were at their worst.

As a native of Baytown, Whitney was excited when a friend recommended her for a job at Neighbors Emergency Center two years ago. She has been a giving member to her work family.

“I had heard nothing but wonderful things about the company so I jumped at the opportunity. I absolutely love working in the community in which I was raised and giving back to my hometown.”

“Whitney has gone above and beyond to help me with Neighbors Baytown’s high patient numbers,” said Facility Director Ben Greer. “She has switched from her normal shift to make it easier for me to get the staffing needed. She’s picked up extra shifts at the last minute to make sure we are covered. She has been a great asset to have.”

Married with 2 children, 2 rotten dogs and 2 spoiled cats, Whitney enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures and foods.


RN Chris HeathCHRIS in Amarillo

“I have constantly observed Chris taking a seat with his patients and carefully describing their medications, specific diet and activity restrictions,” shared Facility Director Josh Bailey. “He inspires others to pursue a career in nursing by acting as a positive beacon of excellence for our profession. Chris makes significant contributions by realizing the impact nurses have in peoples’ everyday lives and thereby practicing admirably and exceptionally.”

Chris started in medicine as an Army medic and served an infantry deployment to Iraq in 2003. After the military, Chris did not plan a life in nursing.

“Once I became a nurse, something strange happened. The faces of my patients were the same faces I saw on the battlefield,” he said. “The families we left were suddenly the families at the bedside. I felt some redemption for my time as a medic. I was able to forgive myself for not taking care of the men I left behind. I needed nursing as much as nursing needed me.”

Now what drives Chris is the untimely loss of his twin brother two years ago. The death of his brother prompted Chris to be examined for the same heart ailment that took his brother’s life. Heath’s results returned that, he too, had the same heart condition.

“The way I can repay my brother is to care for others who need help,” Chris said. “I love what I do, who I do it with and who I do it for. I have worked, and continue to work, with the best healthcare workers Amarillo has to offer.”

Chris started with Neighbors when the center opened. He is married, has two children and loves to fish, camp and spend time with family and friends.

RN John Minor_miniJOHN in Houston

Experience is not achieved overnight. In John’s case, he has been dedicated to taking care of patients for 36 years. Having spent 17 years in EMS, 14 of those years as a Paramedic, John is committed to saving lives.

He was an accomplished training officer for a mobile ICU ambulance that cared for critical patients in transfers from outlying hospitals into the medical center. He completed the ‘Paramedic to RN’ transition courses in one year because of his skills in ER and ICU care.

“A friend was working at Neighbors and suggested I apply,” John said. “I have enjoyed working here ever since.”

“John’s dedication and selfless attitude is like none other,” stated Facility Director Krystal Wickliff. “He goes above and beyond to help out all Houston facilities when needs present themselves, and John embodies commitment and dependability.”

To unwind from over three decades of nursing the most critical patients, John enjoys traveling and attending concerts. “I love 80s music and attend every concert possible when an 80s band is playing.”

“I graduated from a Houston medical high school so I have been taking care of people since I was 16 years old and I have always taken care of patients the same way. I treat every patient and patient’s family as though they were my family.”

RN David PoeDAVID in Lubbock

Like so many of our outstanding nurses have indicated, they were drawn to helping others while in high school.

“I first took an interest in the medical field during a ‘Shattered Dreams’ demonstration in high school,” David said. “I saw the firefighters and paramedics that thought to myself how cool those jobs were.”

During his senior year of high school, he enrolled in night classes for EMT-basic, and from there David was hooked. He continued his education to become a Paramedic, and after a few more years, continued to become an RN.

“I first met David as a volunteer in my fire department,” said Facility Director Tim Smith. “He was still in high school and basically would come to the station to hang out with the guys, train with them and learn all he could about anything they would teach him.”

Before you knew it, David was out of Nursing School and establishing himself as an outstanding ER Nurse.

“After I graduated I worked at University Medical Center in Lubbock which is a busy level 1 trauma and burn center. I loved the action and the rapid environment that it provided and I can honestly say, I worked with some of the best people ever.”

But David also saw that most patients were hurried and pushed through the ER as quickly as possible. David wanted to do more caring for patients then the hospital environment allowed.

“I jumped at the opportunity to join Neighbors because of the environment they offer to patients. I enjoy having the opportunity to sit and visit with patients and make it easier to truly understand their needs.”

“Neighbors was lucky enough to recruit David to our Lubbock facility and he has not disappointed yet,” Smith added. “He is dedicated to the care of his patients and their families. David is what I describe as a true patient advocate. He will go above and beyond to ensure each person who walks through our doors is taken care of, just like family.”

And his heart is still drawn to helping people, even when not at Neighbors. David is also a volunteer Firefighter/Paramedic with West Carlisle Fire/EMS just outside of Lubbock.

RN Isai FuentesISAI in El Paso

Isai has been part of the Neighbors El Paso family for over a year and a half and all the physicians and staff enjoy working with him. A hard worker, he truly embodies the values and culture of Neighbors.

Always reliable, responsible and team-oriented, Isai has never called in sick and has picked up day or night shifts at either Neighbors in El Paso. He even ended his vacation early to come in and help with shifts that needing covering. It’s that generous spirit that sets him apart. Plus, Isai’s smile is as infectious as his heart is big.

These people, and hundreds more, are behind our patients and contribute to the Neighbors difference. We are honored and proud they chose Neighbors.