Hector Grajeda

June 24, 2022
Hector Grajeda

Persistence provides a breath of fresh air

Scott Miller had a goal.  

He needed to walk half a mile in under 20 minutes to build leg strength.  

Improved leg strength meant he would be closer to receiving a life-changing lung transplant.  

Easier said than done.  

Miller carries an oxygen tank wherever he goes. His lungs are stiff and scarred due to interstitial lung disease and his oxygen needs are steep. The tank didn’t do the job. Without enough oxygen, Miller couldn’t reach his goal.  

Then he met Hector Grajeda at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.  

“He really wanted to walk his two golden retrievers,” said Grajeda, a respiratory therapist who has been with UCHealth for almost 14 years.  

Determined to make a difference, Grajeda got on the phone with oxygen companies to try to get a portable high flow liquid oxygen tank for Miller. It wasn’t an easy task considering COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on oxygen supplies and very few companies provide this particular system.    

It didn’t surprise Grajeda’s manager, Alexandra Worl, when she heard Grajeda on the phone with the oxygen companies.

“Hector always takes initiative and steps up,” said Worl. “He will stay late to accommodate a patient’s schedule and follow up with them after they are discharged.” 

Grajeda’s persistence paid off and, eventually, Miller got the specialized tank that provided enough oxygen.

“He was pretty happy,” said Grajeda, who also volunteers regularly to support COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

Miller called Grajeda’s take on the situation an understatement. 

“I feel reborn,” Miller said. 

Knowing Miller needed to reach a few other goals during twice-weekly strength and endurance sessions, Grajeda also made sure to pair Miller with other lung transplant recipients.   

“It motivates him to be around someone who is on the other side,” said Grajeda. “We spend a lot of time with our patients and we really accomplish our mission when are able to bring them joy.”  

Grajeda was recently awarded the Colorado Respiratory Care Society‘s John Wolfe Memorial Award. This award goes to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the awareness and prevention of respiratory diseases in our community.  

Worl said Grajeda was a natural for the award. 

“He never fails to connect with patients.” 

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