Virginia Mendoza

Virginia Mendoza
Virginia Mendoza, a pediatric hospice care nurse for Memorial Hermann, views her job as more of a calling than a profession. Being there for a family while their child is sick and dying takes an emotional toll more profound than most people experience during their career.

Mendoza does whatever it takes to make sure the family has time to focus on their child’s last moments. This means she may go grocery shopping, arrange an at-home visit from Santa, or speak with the funeral home in addition to doling out medications and health care. If a child dies, she’s there to help the family with the last bath and to snip locks of hair for mementos.

“Death,” she says, “is a vulnerable time and a sacred time. It’s rewarding to be with someone on that journey, to treat not just symptoms but to honor them.”

She hopes her inclusion in Monuments by Craig Walsh at Discovery Green brings awareness to the support available to families of sick children. Children eligible for hospice care can still continue treatment, she says. In fact, some children get better and “graduate” out of hospice.

Mendoza says her childhood in child protective services and as a ward of the state motivated her to be a nurse. It was an experience she survived with the help of her sister who nominated her. Now she wants to be an example for anyone else going through a similar struggle. “You don’t have to be a statistic,” she says. “Take advantage of tuition waivers and all the support available to you and keep going.”