Jody Reyes’ career has carried her from the Midwest to the Middle East. Her new home base, though, is City of Hope.
Reyes, M.S.B.A., B.S.N., O.C.N., recently signed on as clinical director of hematology and hematopoietic cell transplantation. She leads a team of nurses and support staff who provide direct care to patients battling cancers of the blood and immune system such as leukemia and lymphoma.
|Jody Reyes leads a nursing team that focuses on hematologic cancers. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
Reyes brings an important set of skills to a critical post, according to Shirley Johnson, R.N., M.S., M.B.A., chief nursing and patient services officer.
“More than half of our inpatients on any given day are hematology patients. Coordinating care for that program is a significant responsibility, and not just anybody could fill those shoes,” said Johnson. “Jody possesses well-developed leadership and communication skills, and she really shares our vision — continuing to improve our already excellent outcomes for transplant patients. We’re just delighted to have her heading up that team.”
Reyes previously worked as the clinical director of oncology nursing services at the Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego Medical Center. She also served as an officer in the United States Navy.
“The military is where I learned the importance of developing a strong team and that every single individual has something to offer,” she said.
“The way I see it, my job is to create an environment where everybody who reports through me — and quite frankly, those who don’t — can thrive,” she continued. “If leadership’s focus is on caring for our staff members, they can just show up for work and give their heart and soul to the patients. They then can go home and recharge their battery so they can come back to work and do it all over again.”
Reyes, a native of Illinois, joined the Navy as an active-duty nurse in 1999. Her various assignments moved her through leadership roles in a variety of specialties: post-anesthesia care, mother-baby nursing, cancer care and shock trauma nursing during a 2003 deployment to Iraq and Kuwait. Her experience overseas proved revelatory.
Said Reyes: “That experience reminded me that life is very precious and very short, and that you shouldn’t waste time doing something that you don’t love. I loved being in the Navy, but I loved being a cancer nurse even more.”
She left active duty in 2004, but continued to work as a civilian at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego in the Hematology-Oncology Department. Looking to comprehensive cancer centers like City of Hope as a model, Reyes led an expansion of staff to incorporate supportive care services. In November 2008, she was recruited to the Moores Cancer Center.
Reyes noted that she first discovered her affinity for caring for cancer patients when she worked as a nurse’s aide while putting herself through nursing school.
“I just fell in love. I fell in love with the patients. I fell in love with the families,” she said. “They’re inviting us into their world during what will probably be the most trying time of their lives, and that’s a privilege. It’s something that’s very sacred.”