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“Why Weren’t you Here When I Came?”

Ruffles’ patients depend on her and they make LPN Rufelia “Ruffles” Tomas passionate about her job. “When they tell you, ‘Why weren’t you here … ?’ that means that you made a difference and they feel comfortable,” she said. “I love my job … and you can’t tell if I’m tired or not. I’m focused.”

A Licensed Practical Nurse at Hamakua-Kohala Health, Honoka’a clinic since 2012, Ruffles received her BSN at Northern Christian College School of Nursing in Laong City, Philippines in 1979 and soon immigrated to Hawai’i as her mom brought each of her family members over.

“There are so many challenges in the health care industry at this time. We as healthcare providers should do the best we can to provide the best care to our patients,” Ruffles believes.

“Geriatric Nursing is where I have the most experience,” Ruffles said. She also has a lot of training in psychiatry and uses it often. She enjoys helping older members of our community find the resources they need, explain to them what to expect, and match them with the right care-giver, often helping bring CNAs into their homes. She’s even opened up her own home and runs the Wamil Adult Community Family Foster Home, a three bed facility with a wait list a mile long. Her favorite part is working as a nutritionist for her two diabetic residents.

You can tell Ruffles cares passionately for her community; she’s worked all over providing care in a mental hospital, an orthopedic hospital, and medical and surgical units. She worked for Life Care Center of Hilo in the ‘80s, and at Hale Ho’ola Hamakua in the ‘90s, while also working part time at Waimea medical Associates for 17 years until the clinic closed. She worked at North Hawaii Community Hospital before coming to HKH.

“I am proud to be one of the employees here because I know each and every one of us cares a lot about our community. We are all united in one mission; to provide the best care and to be available to open our door to all the needy, insured and uninsured patients from pediatrics to geriatrics,” said Ruffles. “It’s a very rewarding job.”


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