DaVita® Stories

DaVita Teammate and Veteran Helps to Enrich Patient Lives

Editor’s Note: As Military Appreciation Month comes to an end, we’d like to highlight two more stories from DaVita veteran teammates. DaVita has been lucky enough to be recognized as an military and veteran employer of choice by numerous organizations –most recently, we were ranked 42/113 on the Military Times’ Best for Vets Employers list. 

The Navajo Nation Reservation located in northern Arizona has given me the most challenging undertaking of my social work career.  Challenging, but also most rewarding, as it has allowed me to tackle the delivery of specific DaVita services in the most geographically remote, desolate and destitute territory in Arizona.  The meaning of survival is second to none for our DaVita dialysis patients.  It is with a privilege and honor to consistently offer daily support with validation of their efforts with ESRD (end stage renal disease)—because life is hard enough, particularly, in this area.  They are proud Native Americans.  I am greatly supported by a unique and sensitive DaVita team here in Tuba City and Hopi Dialysis Clinics in Arizona.  As a social worker for the team, my role is to simply engage patients and teammates alike and move our patients forward so they can reach and enhance their quality of life.

I grew up in southern Arizona, and as a Vietnam Marine with combat experience, I completed my stateside duties as a military police sergeant in charge of a unit of young Marines. My transition from a short, four-year military career can be considered normal—with somewhat of a snag/twist, though.  I have 25 years experience in social work with the State of Arizona, five years with Gila River Indian Community and after completing my doctorate in 2014, my thoughts were to simply complete my social work career working directly with those in need.  Nonetheless, after over two years of seeking employment, I never received a call for an interview.

While in the private sector in Florida I had my resume out there but with no interviews.  I even applied with my former State of Arizona agency but was not offered reinstatement—this was in spite of my high evaluations as a supervisor and manager for the state for over 25 years.  I was even willing to take a regular position within the state, but still no offers.  But eventually, DaVita not only reviewed my resume but offered me a social worker (MSW) position soon after my first interview in the health care industry.

I had no medical social work experience and I was a recent matured 2014 graduate—I was age 66 when hired by DaVita.  Therefore, I can sincerely avow that my experience with DaVita has been that it is a company that looks at your attributes as a future employee, not at your deficits. DaVita consistently and in a proactive way, looks at your ability to manage your transformation from a military life into one with health care, alongside a diversified group of employees with the same openness you exhibited and experienced while in the military.

DaVita acknowledges you as a person and affords you the trust as a veteran, saying: you can do it. In essence, all I can attest to is that DaVita gave me this great opportunity, as it does with hundreds of other veterans.  I have been with DaVita as an MSW (Master of Social Work)for four years and, DaVita continually enhances their support by allowing me the opportunity to participate in our notable Veteran to Village (V2V) program as a guide, allowing me to use my past management experiences with new veteran teammates.

This has made me extremely gratified and content with my current role of MSW with my unit.  DaVita’s internal education/training further tweaked and enhanced my skills to improve the quality of life for Navajo and Hopi dialysis patients and their immediate families in Tuba City and Hopi Clinics that are located in Northern Arizona.

My transformation—after being an unemployed Vietnam Marine veteran—would have not been possible without DaVita’s willingness and supportive environment, doing things the DaVita Way.  DaVita has allowed me to do what I love to do: one-on-one support of patients to help them lead fulfilling lives!

Richard Bonilla

Richard Bonilla

Richard grew up in southern Arizona and served as a Vietnam Marine with combat experience. He now works in northern Arizona as DaVita social worker.