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7’s Hero: St. Luke’s 'Dancing Nurse' brings young patients and their families joy

Nurse Joe Ronquillo loves taking care of children, and he loves to dance. He combines both to give his pediatric patients the best possible care.

There’s a commercial running for St. Luke's Children's Hospital on KTVB this month. It features pediatric nurse Joe Ronquillo and his amazing dance moves.

“It's kind of funny because I think they thought it was an actor, I'm not an actor,” Joe Ronquillo said.

Nurse Joe is the real deal. He's been taking care of little patients at St. Luke's for 16 years now, and he's so loved by the patients and by their families. Ronquillo prides himself on taking the best care of his patients, which includes kids battling the devastating diagnosis of cancer.

“It means everything. I think working with our oncology patients is very meaningful to me because I know they are chronically ill children that have to stay here, and often times its days or weeks or even longer,” Ronquillo said. “I think it's an amazing thing to be a part of that.”

Nurse Joe has an incredible backstory. His parents immigrated to Idaho from El Salvador before he was born because of the war.

“My parents brought my older brother and sister from El Salvador and then I was born here with my little sister,” he said. “So I was born here, I’m first generation.”

He isn't the only one in his family to go into the medical field or to work at St. Luke's Hospital. His two sisters and brother both work there too. Something that fills their parents with great pride.

Credit: Joe Ronquillo
All four of the Ronquillo children work in healthcare at St. Luke’s.

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“My whole family works here. My sister Lavinia and Sabrina are both respiratory therapists, and my brother Marvin is a nurse downstairs in the NICU,” said Ronquillo.

Joe is well known for something else here at St. Luke's, his dancing. If he’s your nurse, you’re likely to get phenomenal care - along with some incredible dance moves.

“There's a good opportunity that I may be dancing for you, so it's a win-win,” he said. “I call it giving a little extra flavor!”

Joe is something of a social media star! You may just see posts of him dancing with his patients on Facebook. He's well-loved in the childhood cancer community. Ronquillo is there for the best days and the worst. Everyone is hoping nurse Joe is on their shift.

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“One parent will film a little video and then it will just spread around,” he said. “The greatest joy for me is me dancing for them here at the hospital. It's not just treating the disease it's treating the entire patient, so I think those are the moments that I cherish the most.”

For Joe, bringing his young patient's a smile during their worst days, is everything.

“It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Ronquillo just finished Nurse Practioner's school. He says his young patients inspire him to move forward in his life and go after his dreams.

He's not sure what the future holds. But, he says one thing is certain, he's going to keep on dancing and taking the very best care of children.

Watch more '7's Hero'

See all of the heartwarming segments in our YouTube playlist here:

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