Hector Chavez

Working throughout the pandemic, Hector Chavez relied on his Benefit Fund to protect his health.

As a registered Respiratory Therapist, Hector Chavez has experienced a lot in his 10 years at Montefiore Medical Center’s Moses Campus in the Bronx, but nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was scary,” Hector explained. “We went from maybe one or two code medical emergencies a day to as many as 15, and just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.” But despite managing two medical conditions—epilepsy and high blood pressure—Hector stuck to his work schedule, taking extra precautions to make sure his wife, Maria, stayed healthy. He even started an online fundraiser for personal protective equipment (PPE), collecting $5,000 in donations that he used to purchase hazmat suits, masks, shoe coverings and even vitamins for himself and his team.

A 39-year-old immigrant from Ecuador, Hector has been able to manage his epilepsy and hypertension with prescription drugs, which are fully covered by his Benefit Fund. “I’m so thankful for my benefits,” he said. “Just one of those treatments could cost me $1,000 a month!”

With 1199SEIU, we have the best [health and training] benefits around. I hear others complain about the limitations they have, but not me—I stay here because of them.

Hector Chavez

Respiratory Therapist, Montefiore Medical Center: Moses Campus in the Bronx

Hector is also grateful for behavioral health telehealth visits. “Telemedicine is really a blessing,” he said. “Sometimes you just need someone to talk to.”

An 1199SEIU member for 20 years, Hector started on the path to respiratory therapy at age 15, spurred by his concern for his asthmatic sister and the opportunity to enroll in a medical tech program at his high school. A few years later, he began his professional career in the housekeeping department at Mary Immaculate Hospital. Hector went back to school at Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2010, which helped him land his current position. More recently, he has used his 1199SEIU Funds training benefits to cover continuing education credits at New York City College of Technology, where he got his bachelor’s degree in Health Service Management, graduating summa cum laude in 2014.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Hector is thinking about using his training benefits to pursue a master’s degree in Emergency Preparedness Management, or even his doctorate. “With 1199SEIU, we have the best [health and training] benefits around,” he said. “I hear others complain about the limitations they have, but not me—I stay here because of them.”

What Do Your Benefits Mean to You?

You count on your health benefits to support you in your efforts to stay healthy, whether it’s by getting regular checkups, keeping a chronic condition under control or just improving your lifestyle in general. But has there ever been a time when your health coverage literally saved your life or the life of a loved one? If so, we’d like to hear from you. To share your story with your fellow members in an upcoming issue of For Your Benefit, please contact the Funds at [email protected].

For Your Benefit Magazine