Lt. Governor Mike Cruz Honored for Service to the Underserved

410

Guam – Guam’s Lt. Governor Dr. & Col. Michael Cruz has been “recognized for his selfless efforts as a volunteer surgeon to medically underserved individuals during his active military duty by being honored with the 2010 Surgical Volunteerism Award of the American College of Surgeons and Pfizer, Inc. ”

A release from the American College of Surgeons states that Dr. Cruz is one of four ACS members to receive the Surgical Volunteerism Award this year. 

The ACS/Pfizer award was presented earlier this month in Washington, DC, during the American College of Surgeons Board of Governors dinner, which was one of the highlights of the College’s 96th Annual Clinical Congress.  The volunteerism award is given “in recognition of those surgeons committed to giving something of themselves back to society by making significant contributions to surgical care through organized volunteer activities.”

While serving with the Guam Army National Guard, Dr. Cruz cofounded the Ayuda Foundation to address the vital health needs of neighboring Pacific Islanders.  The foundation organizes surgical teams and containers of supplies to provide relief to hospitals struggling with a backlog of surgical cases and a lack of infrastructure and provides nonsurgical services to underserved communities.

Dr. Cruz is a 1984 graduate of Loma Linda (CA) University School of Medicine.  He became certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1992 and has been a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons since 1996.  He is currently the incumbent Lt. Governor of Guam and is a staff surgeon at the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, Tamuning.  

For the past 16 years, through the Ayuda Foundation, Dr. Cruz has worked to assist those in the islands of Micronesia who normally would not have access to surgical and medical care.  As a cofounder and the current president of the foundation, he guides the organization as it facilitates medical missions and coordinates surgical teams and large quantities of surgical and medical supplies in order to enhance surgical care at hospitals faced with an excess of surgical cases and no solid foundation for providing surgical services.  Furthermore, in order to help improve the training of local medical personnel, the foundation sought and received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build medical libraries in 12 Pacific Island hospitals and to equip each library with computers and access to the Internet. Seven of the libraries have been completed; the rest are expected to be finished by December 2010.  The foundation has also provided vital surgical relief during natural disasters in the region, including Typhoon Chataan in 2002.  In addition to the surgery-related assistance the foundation provides, it also sponsors nonsurgical medical programs, including HIV/AIDS education and its Island Girl Power program, which provides health and safety education for girls seven to 14 years old.