Chamisa MacIndoe knew she wanted to be a physician when she was a teenager. Growing up in a small, rural southern Colorado community with a single mom and three sisters, she had to work harder than most to achieve that goal.

“I grew up very poor and had to work from a young age,” said Dr. MacIndoe, who is medical director of neurocritical care at UCHealth Memorial Hospital. Dr. MacIndoe and her colleagues treat people with critical neurological conditions such as stroke.

But she says the challenge of surmounting her background to become a doctor was also a blessing.

Dr. MacIndoe put herself through school, working at jobs that included waitressing, nursing assistant, retail salesperson and research assistant. It was difficult, but she said it gave her a greater understanding of how each member of a team is valuable.

“The nurses and the team that cares for patients are so important to me,” she said. “I’m very invested in making sure that I empower them and respect them and value what they bring.”

That’s why she pays attention to the small things, like picking up coffee for her nurses on the way to work.

Her nominator, Adah Rodriguez, said Dr. MacIndoe “is the example of a leader who leads with their heart and embodies humility, integrity, perseverance and commitment to solving some of the most difficult challenges patients may be faced with.”

Her co-workers also praise her dedication to patients and their families. She takes the time to educate families about what’s happening with their loved one and to prepare them for what lies ahead.

Dr. MacIndoe graduated from the University of New Mexico and attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

She did her residency in emergency medicine at the State University of New York-Buffalo. She fell in love with neurocritical care — and the young man who would become her husband — during a two-year fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before returning to Colorado Springs, she served as a neurointensivist and medical director of the Neuro ICU at the University of New Mexico, and as medical director of neurocritical care at Swedish Medical Center, Englewood, where she developed the neurocritical care program.

In 2015, Dr. MacIndoe was invited to help develop a comprehensive stroke center at UCHealth Memorial, and she jumped at the opportunity. Before the program was implemented, many local patients had to be transported to Denver.

Pushing boundaries and working 80 hours a week, she has brought a higher level of care that enables UCHealth-Memorial to serve many more neurosurgical patients within the community.

“I feel privileged to have been part of a team that has developed and continues to help improve patients’ access to advanced neurologic and stroke care in southern Colorado,” Dr. MacIndoe said. “I’m really very honored to be able to take care of patients and their families and that they have faith in me.

“And I really love where I work and the team that I work with. There’s incredible passion and enthusiasm, but also just willingness to work, and I think really caring about the community. That’s why I’m here, and I don’t ever want to leave.”