Joe Brabec, RN, is a Senior Clinical Specialist at Philips Healthcare, a role in which he has served admirably since 2003. Based in North Carolina, he educates new employees and clinicians on Philips patient monitoring equipment. He has also leveraged his skills in critical care nursing, an avocation in global health, and a generous heart to strengthen communities in the United States and internationally.

In 2010, Joe was selected by Philips leadership to travel to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating, 7.0 magnitude earthquake. He was tasked with quickly mobilizing high-tech patient monitoring devices that were donated by Philips, in an environment that would challenge even the most seasoned professional. His familiarity with, and expertise in, complex equipment made him a logical choice for this critically important role. But no less important were his strength of character and exemplary interpersonal skills that allowed him to respond to the disaster as both a skilled technician and a humanitarian.

Under Joe’s leadership, and with limited generator power and no cell service, his team transformed a 66-bed hospital with minimal medical devices into a state-of-the-art medical facility. They also converted closets into OR suites and used soccer fields for triage sites and helicopter pads, while also pitching in to treat patients. He made subsequent trips to Haiti to mentor staff and ensure the donated equipment continued to meet the needs of the evolving crisis.

Prior to his role at Philips Healthcare, Joe was a Critical Care Nurse at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, where he assisted patients in the Critical Care (CCU) and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care (CTICU) units. He also formerly served as a Drug Safety Analyst at Quintiles (now IQVIA), a clinical resource organization.

Joe is a former Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army with three years of active duty and eleven years of active Army Reserves service. He continues to work closely with military and government partners, and has traveled to military bases in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and across the U.S. to train personnel. He also visited Ecuador to work and educate staff in a mobile hospital ICU, a project coordinated by Carolina Medical Center and the Ecuador Ministry of Health.

He earned a nursing degree from Harper College, and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences from Excelsior College.

Joe believes strongly in the power of technology to advance healthcare. His passion lies in educating clinicians to provide better outcomes for patients, and in fostering partnerships grounded in trust, compassion, and mutual respect. Described by those who know him best as an unapologetic “people person,” Joe loves educating because he gets to work with others. He derives satisfaction from those “aha” moments, when colleagues make the connection between the complex monitoring equipment they are learning to operate and the lives they will save. Joe savors the progress he makes with each new client, knowing that his training builds confidence and expands knowledge.

Joe and his wife, Connie, have two children who are similarly pursuing lives of purpose. After witnessing firsthand the devastation in Haiti, Joe returned there with his teenage daughter to aid in the recovery effort. Together, they visited orphanages and comforted children, and distributed donated goods to those in need. Their experiences, they have said, affected them deeply, but did not dampen their belief in the hopeful promise of tomorrow. They intend to make future trips abroad, to Haiti and elsewhere, as a means of serving others and strengthening an already invulnerable father-daughter bond.

Joe reflects daily on his volunteerism and is grateful for the many directions and places his career has taken him. He is an embodiment of a selfless, everyday hero who works tirelessly in support of Philips’ global mission to transform the future of healthcare.

It’s an honor to share Joe’s story, and to welcome him to the United Nations as one of this year’s Nurse Honorees.

– Deb