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Published on August 21, 2015

After nearly five decades, maternity nurse retires After nearly five decades, maternity nurse retires

Patricia Cruz started her journey at Cape Cod Hospital in 1964, and over the next 48 years witnessed remarkable changes.

“I’ve seen the evolution of Cape Cod Hospital,” she began. “I’ve watched it grow from a tiny, local community to a system that is constantly named within the top 100 hospitals.”

Photo of Patricia Cruz

Patricia Cruz’s photo hangs within a collage in the Cape Cod Hospital maternity unit.

Spending the majority of her time at CCH in the maternity unit, Cruz, who recently retired, has seen some dramatic transformations, not just in the technology but also in her patients. “Many of the babies I worked with in my early career have grown to be parents, even grandparents. I’ve seen them return back to the hospital to welcome their own family.”

Cruz not only was fortunate enough to see all of her grandchildren born at CCH, but has also witnessed some other memorable births, one in particular which stayed with her.

“About 30 years ago I took care of a lovely young mother who was sick, she really touched me. Unfortunately she passed shortly after the birth of her daughter. Recently I was helping discharge another young mother, when we got on the subject of names. I will never forget when she looked up at me and told me she was naming her newborn after her own mother, whom passed when she was just an infant. I instantly recognized the connection. She wept as I told her stories about the remarkable and loving women her mother was, not the patient she had become. It was a really touching moment.”

When reflecting on years spent dedicated to the nursing profession Cruz joked that she often is referred to as a “dinosaur”. To that she laughed, adding that “the thing about dinosaurs is they have good bones, we hang around for a while.”

And hang around she did. Cruz has seen firsthand advancements in treatment that make it much easier today to fully carry, birth and care for a child.

“When I first began my career in the 60’s being a diabetic mother meant complications, either with the pregnancy or the child’s general health and well-being. With the development of new drugs like Rhogam (Rho(D)), we’ve been able to transform a once life-threatening situation into a more stable, successful pregnancy and birth. It’s amazing. Technology and knowledge has increased so much, there is now so much more that you can do.”

Alongside the technology, Cruz noted that the patients themselves were pretty remarkable. “The maternity unit is a mostly happy place, but occasionally you have a scenario where a birth is not what you expect or a child is suffering from a condition that needs additional treatment and support. I’ve watched as parents rally and advocate for their children, wanting to learn everything they can about an illness or condition. I’ve been able to be a part of the team that helps to empower them. It’s a really good field to belong to.”

When she looks back at her time spent on the hospital campus, Cruz has nothing but love, fond memories and lifelong friendships. “Many of my friends are nurses from the hospital, some who have since passed. When I think about all that I’ve seen here at Cape Cod Hospital I think about them. If they could get a glimpse of CCH now would they be proud of the history and changes that have taken place? Absolutely, and I am certainly proud to have been a part of it.”