On one of her shifts, Melinda had to run a quick errand to the ICU. There, she heard nurses talking about a patient who was actively dying; the patient had recently been hospitalized at USC Norris Cancer Hospital and had no family or friends in the area. The patient’s family had been told, yet none were able to travel in time to be with the patient in her last moments. The ICU nurses were all busy that day, so Melinda volunteered to stay at this patient’s bedside until she passed, so she would not die alone. Later, Melinda and colleagues united to build a hospital program that would ensure no one ever dies alone, no matter their circumstances. The result was a collaboration with “By Your Side,” a vigil companion volunteer program. This innovative program would not exist at Keck Medical Center without Melinda’s instinct to stop and help.

This is just one example of Melinda’s commitment to caring. In her role as a clinical nurse specialist, she is warm and engaging, fully present with both patients and colleagues. Her office door is always open; she has snacks and a comfy chair and decorates for every single holiday imaginable. Everything about her work is about moving nursing practices forward, advocating for patients and their safety, and providing comfort wherever and whenever it is needed.

Outside of work, Melinda volunteers for Days for Girls, a group that works to eliminate the stigma and limitations on girls when they menstruate— a problem in many countries, where menstruation supplies are limited and cultural beliefs about menstruation can prevent girls from participating in schools and society. Melinda’s volunteer work with the organization includes countless hours of work, donations, and sewing sturdy, reusable pads that are sent to girls and women around the world. Additionally, Melinda is active with the Los Angeles Nurse Honor Guard – paying tribute to nurses during their funeral service by performing the Nightingale Tribute.