Heather Gutierrez Will Always Be Remembered as a Caring and Bright Soul by Those at MEC
Originally published by Lauren Grasham on nwi.life on September 27, 2021
“A pure ray of sunshine” was how many at Midwest Express Clinic described their friend and colleague, Heather Gutierrez. Heather passed away suddenly on August 31, 2021, at the age of 40, and was loved by many, including her family at Midwest Express Clinic. Some of those closest to her recounted some of their favorite memories with us and spoke to what made Heather sparkle like the diamond many knew her to be.
“She was a central figure at Midwest Express Clinic,” said Muhammad Tayyab, Director of Operations at Midwest Express Clinic. “She would never shy away from a challenge, and she had this radiating positivity about her.”
Her coworkers were quick to point out how Heather excelled at her job as a nurse practitioner at the Schererville, Indiana location, whether it be taking the extra time to learn a new procedure or eagerly stepping up to take on the work many were afraid to do.
“Heather always would strive to do any kind of procedure. She educated herself on everything, she went into everything with confidence and really took care of her patients,” said Clinic Manager of Clinical Documentation Nicole Hawkins. “She really loved psychology. While some providers get scared of anxiety and depression and other mental health topics, Heather loved it. She always was able to just sit in a room, talk with these patients, and get them on a good treatment plan. And that was something that I always admired from her because some providers might be less comfortable treating in that space.”
Heather offered the same care and compassion towards her coworkers as well.
“She was really good with all of the new grads,” said Kaitlyn Steinberg, nurse practitioner and management team member. “Many of our providers would confide in her for questions or anything they had clinically related. She was always good about getting back to them. And like I said, she had the latest knowledge. I also know that she was really kind to patients.”
Kaitlyn and Heather first met when they began their careers at Midwest Express Clinic the same week five years ago. Due to their small, shared working space, they quickly bonded and became close friends, not just co-workers. The two trained together and were even pregnant together, so they easily had a lot to connect over.
“Her and I could really relate,” she said. “We started off as new grads. We only had four offices, so we didn’t have all the resources that we had now, and her and I would confide in each other a lot and bounce ideas off each other when we first started. It was always nice knowing that we were on the same page.”
Heather was one of the first people Credentialing Director Melinda Alexander met when she started working at Midwest Express Clinic. Right when she started, Melinda was made aware of how vital Heather was to the company, and it didn’t take long for her to experience for herself what made Heather so special.
“She never came off any way except for professional and caring, so we quickly formed a relationship,” she said. “She would call me if she needed something, and I loved that she felt she could rely on me. She would tell me ‘Hey, Melinda, I have this going on, I need some paperwork, can you submit it?’ Or ‘I received this in an email. Can you take a look?’ So that relationship built from that point.”
Melinda also said when they were stationed at different offices, Heather would make time to go out of her way and visit and talk with her, which she greatly appreciated. Melinda always noticed how Heather would go the extra mile to make sure everyone she spoke to felt seen, heard, and included.
“She actually sees the person. She always had this glow in the back of her eyes, and it just made it comforting to speak with her. It’s like, you didn’t have to put on any front. She was who she was. And that allows you to be exactly who you are,” Melinda said.
This transparency continued with her patients. Heather was never afraid to speak up and fight for her patients when they were either afraid or unable to do so.
Outside of work, Heather had a love for food (especially sushi and Chinese), cryptocurrency, and above all else, her family. Heather was happily married to her husband, Antonio, and together they had their children: Angelina, Marissa, Antonio, José Jr., and Leyla.
Heather’s family was her heart and soul. Her coworkers said she enjoyed spending as much time with them as possible and was always there to support them and cheer them on through all their endeavors. Her children are heavily involved with softball and volleyball, and Heather was always front and center rooting for them at every game. Traveling with her children for their games was one of her favorite ways to bond and spend time with her family.
“Everything that she talked about was related to her kids,” Nicole said.
Heather made a bright and positive impact on everyone’s life that she met. No matter if it was a coworker, a family member, a friend, or even a stranger, Heather had a radiant, sparkling attitude that will always be treasured and will never be forgotten.
“She was always so funny and chill and relaxed and fun person to be around,” Nicole said.
“She really cared, and she really enjoyed working for this company and always put her heart into it,” Kaitlyn said. “Things won’t be the same without her.”
Midwest Express Clinic is deeply saddened by the loss of Heather and makes it one of their biggest priorities to emulate the qualities that were so dear about her. For Heather.