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Healthcare Heroes Honored with Personalized Painting by COVID-19 Patient’s Daughter

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Susie Cortez standing in front of her painting of nurses, doctors, and medical staff who provided care for her father Mario Cortez. | Image from KRLD Radio Dallas

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Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano was honored with a customized portrait of staff who helped 88-year-old Mario Cortez pull through COVID-19. Susie Cortez, a nationally recognized artist, created the painting.    

“Before putting brush to canvas, I thought of the Justice League, where you see Superman and Wonder Woman and all the superheroes standing in solidarity,” said Susie Cortez, a fine art consultant and well-known visual artist, in an interview with Texas Health Resources. “That’s what I visualized for this painting, but the superheroes captured in this piece are the nurses and doctors that helped my dad recover from COVID-19,” she said.  


The Cortez family made a return to the Texas Health Plano hospital to give the 48-by-30-inch art that honors the medical staff, including Michael Mercado, D.O., a family medicine physician.     

“It’s a humbling experience,” Mercado said in an interview with Texas Health Resources. “When I heard about her project, how could I say ‘no’ to such a unique and touching token of appreciation? This painting is amazing, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”    

Susie made such a personalized piece by the staff’s willingness to provide pictures of themselves. Cortez’s hospital stay lasted for ten days at Texas Health Plano.

He has only one kidney and diabetes. Even though he was high risk, he never went on a ventilator, for which he praises more than the oxygen and medicine.     

“Every day, all the nurses would lift my spirits up,” Mario said to Texas Health Resource. “God only knows what was going on in their lives while they were helping heal me.”    

One of Mario’s nurses, Percy Paclibar, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., CCRN-K, critical care nursing director, is committed to providing the best care for his patients, whether COVID-19 is a factor or not.     

“When we care for patients, whether they have COVID-19 or not, we treat every person with dignity and compassion, because they deserve it,” said Percy to Texas Health Resources. “And when they can’t connect with their families, it’s our obligation to give them the support and upliftment that they need.”  

Texas Health Plano plans to leave Susie’s painting displayed for many more months. Susie Cortez wants others to support healthcare workers for everything they do. COVID-19 is still hitting them hard.    

“Creating this piece, I felt happiness inside my heart, not sadness,” Susie said. “As I painted and looked at the individual photos of healthcare workers, I could sense smiles behind those masks. Hopefully, I captured those emotions, and others will find joy in my artwork as well.” 

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