Soon Lee

Nov. 25, 2020
Soon Lee, a nurse at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, missed caring for patients when she briefly retired. Photo by Tom Hutton, UCHealth.

Flexibility, humility keys to nurse’s success

Soon Lee couldn’t stand retirement.

For a month a dozen years ago, Lee stepped away from a 20-year career as a cardiovascular nurse at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central. The time off was nice, but she missed the opportunity to improve lives in the community she adopted in 1988 when she moved to Colorado Springs.

Now, she assists with procedures including heart catheterizations, ablations, pacemaker installations and stress tests, having worked in both pre-procedure and post-procedure roles. The quality of her care, as well as her flexibility, drew the praise of Dr. Brad Mikaelian who recently turned to Lee for assistance with a patient who refused interpreter services but who he wasn’t sure fully comprehended his diagnosis and treatment plan.

When the patient’s procedure was scheduled on Lee’s day off, she came in anyway, speaking to the patient in Korean, their common language, as Mikaelian and staff members completed the procedure. Later, she called the patient to ask how she was feeling.

“She lives alone,” Lee said of the patient. “While the procedure went well, anything with the heart can be scary. I really just wanted to reach out and let her know that someone who spoke her language, knew her case, and who understood her culture, was here for her.”

Those actions did not surprise Mikaelian who called Lee “a wonderful person and excellent nurse.”

Flexibility and humility are Lee’s trademarks. She frequently trades shifts with other nurses, many of whom she knows balance work and family responsibilities.

“My kids are grown up,” Lee said. “And my husband is self-sufficient. But others have small children who need them or maybe they want to attend a school event that conflicts with work. I’m happy to help them out.”

Lee was raised in Mangyeong, South Korea. She and her husband, Sang Chul, moved from Korea to New York in 1975. She worked as a nurse in New York City and Binghamton prior to moving to Colorado Springs when her husband became U.S. Olympic Taekwondo head coach. The couple raised four sons, now successful adults.

Lee starts to talk about her sons, and their accomplishments, in the glowing terms of a proud parent before stopping short.

“I raised my children to be humble,” Lee said. “Those are good words to live by.”

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About the author

Tom Hutton is a veteran communications professional who enjoys making complex subjects relatable to people from all walks of life. Prior to joining UCHealth in 2019, he taught and led public communications at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Previously, he led communications at the University of Kansas and was a reporter and manager for newspapers in Kansas, Iowa and California. In these roles, he earned recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the University of Colorado and various press associations.

Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from KU and a master’s degree in public administration from CU. He enjoys college sports, vintage cars, cooking Kansas City-style barbeques, skiing and hiking.

He and his wife Julie have two daughters and a son.