The temperature had dipped below zero and Tita Araos, a nurse on the medical surgical unit at Mercyhealth Harvard, knew she couldn’t let her patient board a bus to go home without a coat. So Araos gave the patient her own coat on that cold December night and told her to keep it.
“She was crying when I gave her the coat, she was so happy,” Araos said. “I felt good because I showed kindness to someone who needed some kindness. She offered to bring it back and I told her ‘no’ because it was Christmastime and she didn’t have any friends or family who could help her.”
But that’s just one example of what makes her such a special nurse, said Tracy Perkins, nurse supervisor at Mercyhealth Harvard. Perkins said that Araos does many wonderful things for her patients.
“She’s genuinely kind and caring with every patient,” Perkins said. “She would literally give someone the coat off her back and go without. That’s just the kind of person she is, very self-sacrificing.”
Araos came to the United States from the Philippines after earning her degree in nursing in 1980. She came from a poor family and said she wanted to live in America to make a better life for herself and her future children.
She started her career at a nursing home in Woodstock and has been in the area ever since. Araos worked at several residential facilities and hospitals before landing at her current job about 10 years ago. Araos said she loves her job, and comes to work each day with a positive attitude and smile on her face.
“I’ve been a nurse for so long and I still look forward to my job and meeting people,” she said. “I’ve been helping people ever since I came to this country. I got very lucky to come here and I want to share my light. If I can help someone, I will.”
Araos’ daughter, Rosali Schueler, said she’s very proud of her mother, whom she described as being just as caring and compassionate at home as she is at work.
“She was born with a very kind heart, which is a great quality to have as a nurse,” Schueler said. “She doesn’t take anything for granted and wants to help people as much as she can. She’s had former patients come up to her in public and tell her about how much they appreciated her when they were in the hospital. That makes [my mother] feel very grateful.”
A typical day for Araos, who works three to four 12-hour shifts a week, involves dispensing medication, starting IVs, monitoring patients and sometimes helping them walk and bathe after surgery. She said she sees patients of all ages, and treats each of them as if they were a part of her family.
“I’ve seen nurses who treat their patients like patients. And I don’t like that,” she explained. “I want them to feel comfortable because sometimes they’re scared in the hospital. I want to be treated that way when I’m a patient.”