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Staying Sharp Richard Pena | Sat, Oct 15 2011 12:00 PM

In our never-ending quest for interesting people we did not have far to go to find Mary Cruz. Just a short jaunt up to the Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center and there she was.

I had an interesting conversation with her the other day that also included a personal tour of part of the hospital. It has been some time since I was at the Sharp hence the tour sort of got me up to date on the strides that are being undertaken. And those strides are great.

Cruz' occupation lists her as being in charge of the Community and Multicultural Relations but I suspect that she is much more than that.

She has been at the hospital for some 15 years, hence, has become acquainted with most of the workings of the establishment. We recall the organization as Chula Vista's lone hospital located in a two story converted house on F Street with 14 beds.

This was during World War II. In the ensuing years, it changed names a couple of times and changed location to the large modern building that sits atop a hill in the Southern end of the city. At the present time it is a 343-bed hospital that has seen much expanding in the ensuing years.

Cruz is an individual who makes the health and well-being of the people of the community her business. She believes, and teaches strongly the concept of communication. The person with a health problem is not going to learn of the problem unless he or she takes steps that will lead to a diagnosis and, hopefully, an eventual cure. She pointed out a statistic that I did not know. One out of eight women will have breast cancer, a scary fact - but it need not be. With early intervention this malady can be cured and that one person can live a normal life.

To achieve that, communication must be strong and clear. The patient must be amenable to the advice of physicians and other health servers and there must be communication between those persons treating an individual. These factors, we were assured, were carried out at the medical center and are constantly being honed and improved much to the welfare of the patient.

The practice of health improvement is a never ending task. On the weekend after I spoke with Cruz a group of volunteers were at the hospital to administer flu shots. Flu shots are recommended for everyone, particularly those of advancing age or those who have a tendency to become infirm.

I, for example, listen to the medical experts and take the shot. This has been going on for more years than I can remember. And I don't think I have ever had the flu. Oh, a sniffle or two every now and then but that is all.

On our tour Cruz took me through the wing that houses the emergency section. The medical center is not a trauma center.

While there I was instructed in the difference between the two. A trauma case is one that is serious enough to be a case of life or death. This can be something like a massive car crash, or a gun or knife wound that might compromise a vital organ. The emergency would be something like a broken arm or leg, something that is not life threatening but that, nevertheless, needs attention.

I also saw an architect's rendering of the new cancer wing that will be added to the main building. It is a much needed section that will house all the components of treatments for cancer patients, from the examinations by the oncologists to the actual surgery or medicinal treatment.

Because of her medical work and community involvement Mary has been involved with many other entities.

She, for example, has been the chairlady of the Combined Health Agencies and has also been an officer with the United Way and the San Diego Science Alliance.

The profession must run in the family because Mary's daughter Angiolina also works at Sharp in a capacity similar to her mother's.

Mary is a Southern California native and lives in Chula Vista. She truly is someone who looks out for the other person and loves what she does.

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Kate Says:

Tue, Oct 18 2011 10:55 AM

Mary is fantastic and Sharp Chula Vista is very lucky to have her!! She truly embodies the Sharp Experience.

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