Sunshine Award Winner Envisions Long Career in Medical Field

For Carl Saintune, going to the doctor as a kid in Haiti was an amazing experience, one he always enjoyed.

“I just remember the white light, everything white and green and blue; it was my colors.”

That same sensory joy hit him when he became a patient care technician at Eskenazi Health. He describes the thrill of “walking into the hospital, always seeing and watching all the design, the lights, seeing the nurses, the doctors . . . . ”

What Saintune envisions as he walks is the surgeon he will become: “Sometimes I just close my eyes . . . and I see the gloves . . . . Just put a scalpel in my hand, and I’m ready for surgery.”

Saintune has always been a planner. Septembers in Haiti, he’d start preparing for June exams. After he followed his brother to the United States in November 2020; moving to Boston, then to Indiana; he sought the patient experience he’d need to get into medical school.

It didn’t hurt that he spoke four languages. Saintune was hired for a full-time internship at an Indianapolis health clinic. Since the Haitian population is growing, his background was a draw, he says. “So they say, ‘You speak, Haitian, you speak Spanish . . . and you can put the notes in English? You got the job,’” he laughs.

While he was grateful for all that he learned after more than a year at the clinic, he wanted hospital experience as well, especially somewhere he could work part-time so that he could pursue his bachelor’s degree.

When he started working part-time at Eskenazi Health Perioperative Services, Saintune’s focus was reassuring patients anxious about upcoming surgeries. “I like to make my patients laugh,” he says, adding, “I have my routine.” There is a silver hat pre-op patients wear. He discusses the other details — the gown, socks, etc. — with them first. “When I get to the silver hat, I say, ‘And after that, you have that beautiful hat.’”

“No matter how . . . stressed they are, they always laugh in that part, I don’t know why,” he says.

Being multilingual also helps Saintune reach patients because “when you talk in their own language, they feel more comfortable; they share more of their own story with you. They don’t feel lost and everything.”

Saintune feels supported by his team, describing them as family. He likes to return the favor, saying, “As a care tech, I know my responsibility is always to help the nurses.” He adds, “If I can foresee something, I just do it.”

His eagerness to help is one reason his team nominated him for a Sunshine Award, which he received before he’d even worked at Eskenazi Health a year. He felt honored: “They know what you’re doing, and they’re saying that you’re doing it well.”

Saintune absorbs all he can about medicine by shadowing and asking questions of his team: “I try to learn every single thing: behaviors, behaviors is the best, the number one key . . . . ” he says.

When his mother asked if he’d ever be a doctor at Eskenazi Health, he joked, “Maybe I’ll be the president of Eskenazi one day.” He adds, “I could be a resident here — you never know — one day.”

A lifelong singer, Saintune is also dedicated to his music. With his brother in another Indiana city and other family members far away, he cherishes music’s therapeutic power, the way it “can reflect, can change our emotion, depending on what the words say.”

In Haiti he performed from 14 years old on, including at a government celebration honoring an essay contest winner. Now he sings at weddings, funerals and at Eskenazi Health, where he sang for the 10th anniversary talent show. He put as much thought into his song selection, “Only Love” by Jordan Smith, as he does everything else.

“One of my dreams here is to sing the national anthem of the US,” he says. “I know one day that will happen.” Music is his minor at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Most of his energy, however, is focused on medicine: “Where you are, the persons around you will mold your future life,” Saintune says. The environment at Eskenazi Health is “just molding me for the best version of the future.”

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