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Colleague Spotlight: Azeb Kebede

Meet Azeb Kebede — a Behavioral Health Care Tech at St. Mark's. Azeb was born and raised in Ethiopia, but has lived here the last two decades.

February 16, 2023
Azeb Kebede smiles while wearing a two-tone brown knit sweater with an oversized collar and tortoise-shell colored glasses.

February is Black History Month and we would like to take the opportunity to highlight one of our own Black colleagues at St. Mark's Hospital: Azeb Kebede — a Behavioral Health Care Tech. Azeb was born and raised in Ethiopia, Africa. After living there for 30 years, she immigrated to the United States where she’s lived the last two decades.

Azeb's journey to the U.S. was not an easy one. She ran from her war-torn home county due to unsafe living conditions. She was eventually able to escape and seek refuge in the U.S. after years of struggle. "I came here because I ran from home," Azeb explained. "It just wasn't a safe place to be."

Azeb came to Salt Lake City as part of a refugee camp and has been living in Utah ever since. Although some of her extended family has relocated to different parts of the country, she remains and is dedicated to her job as a Behavioral Health Care Tech at St. Mark's Hospital.

In the Behavioral Health Unit, Azeb's role is to ensure patient safety and comfort. She takes the time to talk with patients one-on-one, forming connections and providing support. "In the Behavioral Health Unit, our patients are struggling — but I like to make them feel like they're secure," she said.

In her lifetime, Azeb went from her experience as a child — always worried about her safety — to a career in the U.S. where her main goal is providing for the safety and welfare of others. It feels like a full circle moment for Azeb.

"I like these people a lot! They need help. They can be young or old, but they're all struggling," Azeb said about her patients. Despite the challenges she has faced throughout her life, she has a passion for helping people and making a difference in the lives of the patients she cares for. "What I had heard is that America doesn't have any poor people, any sickness or disease. But we do. Mental health affects everyone, but I'm proud to play a role in getting them help," Azeb says of her work in the Behavioral Health Unit.

Despite the challenges she faced growing up, Azeb remains proud of her roots as a Black woman and is passionate about the freedom available to her in the United States.

“In America, there is big opportunity if you use it. My background is a disaster. Nobody really knows my history. They say, ‘Azeb — she’s so happy,’ but they don’t know what I’ve overcome. And that is because of America. America has given me opportunity.”

One example of that opportunity can be found right here at St. Mark’s Hospital. St. Mark’s is the fifth hospital Azeb has worked at in Utah, where she started in November 2016 as a member of our Environmental Services (EVS) team. When she was working in EVS at each hospital before St. Mark’s, she had to work two jobs. That’s not been the case at St. Mark’s. “When the Behavioral Health Tech position became available, I asked my manager ‘Can I try this?’ and he told me ‘Yes!’”

When asked what inspires her each day she said, “The people I work with and the patients. With this job, it’s my first-time helping people. I get to have that connection with them.” She went on to say, “Everything is heaven.”

Azeb is proud to be a Black woman and a healthcare professional. She is a survivor and a shining example of the resilience and determination that is so often found in the Black community.

“America makes me Azeb. I am passionate about it. I am emotional about it,” she said. “I have my freedom now. I’m happy. I’m no longer looking over my shoulder. I’m no longer afraid.”

During Black History Month, we celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black people like Azeb and are honored to have her as part of our team at St. Mark's Hospital.

Azeb Kebede holds up a gold necklace with a pendant in the shape of Africa with a letter "E" stamped through the center of the pendant.
February 16, 2023
St. Mark's Hospital

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