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GRMC Celebrates Mes CHamoru and Recognizes Guam’s First Chamorro Woman Doctor

(Thursday, March 28, 2019; Dededo, Guam) Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) has been celebrating Mes CHamoru throughout March and ended the month with a special event recognizing Dr. Olivia Torres Cruz as Guam’s first Chamorro woman doctor. March also celebrates National Women’s History Month, National Physicians Week from March 24 – 30 and Doctors Day on March 30, GRMC wanted to recognize a Chamorro pioneer in local healthcare whose accomplishments satisfied all four commemorative events.  

The ceremony for Dr. Cruz began with a performance by Inetnon Gef Pa’go, an award-winning Chamorro cultural performance group with members from Inarajan Middle School, Southern High School, and adults. Next a history of Dr. Cruz’s life was shared with its many highlights, including the tale of a daring 25-foot climb down part of the cliff behind GMH in December 1989 to stabilize the injured operator of a compactor that had fallen over during renovations to the building. Dr. Cruz received a Resolution of Commendation for her “remarkable courage” and “exemplary valor and heroism” by the 20th Guam Legislature for her feat that day.

“When I first started on Guam working at GMH, it was my first time as an attending physician. Here I was, a young rookie doctor and I was paired with Dr. O. Cruz. She is nearly five decades my senior. It was intimidating to work with a veteran doctor like her, but even more inspiring to watch her. While she was up high breaking glass ceilings, she set the bar high up there too for the rest of us Chamorro doctors,” said GRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Felix T. Cabrera, “They say if you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life. I wonder if Dr. O. Cruz actually retired her very first day as a doctor, because she obviously made practicing medicine a labor of love since then. Perhaps that’s her secret to decades of service and success.”

Members of Dr. Cruz’s family were present, including her husband Dr. Robert Haddock, her daughter-in-law GRMC Nurse Practitioner Carla Haddock, and four of her grandchildren. Dr. Cruz gave a short speech, expressing her gratitude for the recognition but also focused on how important it is for Guam to have two functioning hospitals.

“We were honored to be able to recognize Dr. OC, as she is better known,” said Dr. Michael Cruz, GRMC CEO and President, “She was the only person who hit every mark we were trying acknowledge. She has been such an inspiration to so many local doctors that this small tribute was the very least we could do in the face of her many contributions to healthcare on Guam.”

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