It’s a No-Brainer: Christopher Padilla, Alyssa Phelan Honored As Outstanding Employees

The Neurosurgery Outstanding Service Award spotlights members of the department who exemplify our core values. The winner this quarter is research technician Christopher Padilla, who works in the Children’s Brain Tumor Project laboratory.

Chris has been our designated tissue navigator since he joined the team as a new graduate of Notre Dame. In this role, Chris works with families to secure informed consent for tumor tissue donation — no easy task when talking with families just before a child undergoes surgery, or, even more difficult, talking with them about post-mortem tumor tissue collection. Chris always manages to have these difficult conversations with gentle compassion.

When coordinating an autopsy donation, Chris is expected to join the neuropathologist during tissue procurement in order to process the tissue in the lab immediately upon retrieval. These procedures often happen on nights, weekends, or holidays, and he has always made himself available, even if it means turning around and heading back to the city instead of taking a planned weekend getaway.

In one notable instance, Chris established a relationship with a mom in Salt Lake City who consented in advance to donate her terminally ill daughter's tumor via autopsy. She frequently sent Chris photos of her child, and he always responded professionally, and with great compassion. When the child took a turn for the worse over Easter weekend, Chris rose to the challenge. He worked with the team to secure a diener (mortuary staff) and arrange for a courier, in order to prepare for the procedure and transport, in a city that practically shut down for the holiday. Chris demonstrates not only compassion but also scientific curiosity  the tumor type in that instance was an embryonal tumor with multilayered rosettes (ETMR), which is a very rare disease that he is passionate about studying.

Alyssa Phelan, RN

Our runner-up this quarter is Alyssa Phelan, RN, a spine center nurse who covers some of the busiest practices in our department. Several of her colleagues nominated her, praising her for her “outstanding collegiality” and commending her for being hard working and collaborative. “She never says no to helping out one of her colleagues!” 

One colleague noted that “whenever a patient of mine calls or sends a message, she notifies me promptly, contacts the patient, and is always happy to assist with any orders or additional steps needed. I appreciate her dedication to patient care and team mentality.” Another said that “she has excellent communication skills and is a delight to work with. We are very fortunate to have her on our team.” It was clear from her many nominations that Alyssa is deeply appreciated by the spine team, who took time to recognize her efforts.

Find out more about previous winners, and nominate the next one!

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787