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Healthcare Hero: Betty Lopez
Betty Lopez
Dr. Betty Lopez

In healthcare, when you find someone who is incredibly competent and smart, cares deeply about her patients and places their well-being above all else, you know you have found a very special person indeed.  That is Dr. Betty Lopez, the Chief Nurse Executive at Sutter Memorial in Modesto.

What makes Betty such an exceptional nurse and healthcare professional?  Five things:

First, Betty has perfected the art of listening.  She has a reputation as someone who will listen to the patient and to the patient’s loved ones before speaking her own thoughts, giving them as much time as they need to be heard. She is just as willing to listen to colleagues and staff – without prejudging them or making snap decisions – and for this, they respect her deeply. Betty listens first, considers what has been said, values this input and only then decides. She will then go the next step by explaining why she made it.

Second, she respects all of the people with whom she works – whether they are nurses, doctors, specialists or certified nursing assistants. She makes a point of telling them how incredibly valuable they are to her, to the patient and to the organization, letting them know that without them, the hospital would not exist.

Third, Betty’s passion for her profession is unmatched. She is a strong advocate for utilizing nurses to their full scope of practice and for making sure that evidence based practices are used to guide the clinical care nurses provide.

Fourth, Betty’s dedication to the organization and the people who work here. She is a true servant leader.  She takes pride in the work that she does and has the upmost integrity. She makes sure to put the patient in the middle of every decision made.

Finally, she challenges herself every day to be better than she was the day before.  She is never afraid to admit she has made a mistake and learns from her missteps when they occur, because she believes learning is a continuous process.

Betty completed her doctoral degree while juggling a family, a marriage and a more-than-full-time job, because it was personally and professionally important to her.  She wants other Latina women to see that no achievement is out of reach. If she can do it – so, too, can they.

As a wife, mother, friend and professional, Betty learned the importance of juggling chaos with a smile whether at home or at work.  And, because she respects herself, she understood the importance of self-care. She is mindful that education not only informs, it can nourish the soul.

Finally, Dr. Betty Lopez is wonderfully humble.  She grew up working on a farm with parents who instilled in her the importance of working hard, constantly learning and never, ever, being afraid to challenge herself.  She is a person of strong faith, who believes that she has been given the tools to heal people, so she uses those skills every day in the world of caring.

Dr. Betty Lopez is an exceptional person and professional.  If I ever got sick, I would want Dr. Betty Lopez on my team, helping to guide my healing and recovery. 

Jeffrey Lewis is the President and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment in Turlock and can be found at