GRMC recognizes first CHamoru woman doctor

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(Press Release)  The Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) ended its celebration of  Mes CHamoru with a special event recognizing Dr. Olivia Torres Cruz, the island’s first CHamoru 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 CHamoru healthcare pioneer whose accomplishments satisfied all four commemorative events.

The ceremony began with a performance by Inetnon Gef Pa’go, an award-winning CHamoru cultural performance group, whose members include adults and students from Inarajan Middle School, and Southern High School.

They also shared a history of Dr. Cruz’s life, highlighting a tale about how she climbed down a 25-foot cliff behind the Guam Memorial Hospital in Dec 1989 to help an injured compactor operator. The injured person fell while doing building renovations.

For her act, Dr. Cruz received a Resolution of Commendation for her remarkable courage and exemplary valor and heroism from the 20th Guam Legislature.

“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 CHamoru doctors,” said GRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Felix T. Cabrera.

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.

Dr. Michael Cruz, GRMC CEO and President, said “She was the only person who hit every mark we were trying to 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.”