I met Eric Cruz about 2 years ago when he was a nurse in the ER, and during the past couple of years, I witnessed what it means to truly care for another human being on so many levels. To me, Eric is what I call a kintsukul'lil nurse. Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer, and many believe the piece becomes more beautiful after having been broken- meaning the broken parts are more beautiful than the rest of the piece because they are covered with gold. There are those rare nurses who somehow make everything they touch more beautiful, more bearable, and filled with more hope. Eric Cruz is one of those rare nurses.
Many of our patients are hurt, scared, and broken, and sometimes they do not even want our help. Eric only sees them as fellow human beings whom he has dedicated his life to helping to the absolute best of his abilities, treating each and every one of them equally, bringing his heart, along with his skills, to work with him each and every shift.
I witnessed Eric care for some of the most critical patients, along with their family members, with more care and compassion than I have ever seen, expecting nothing in return. He treated the patients with dignity and offered them knowledge, along with their frightened family members, explaining the patient's condition, possible tests, and procedures, even providing them with drinks and snacks.
Eric proudly served our country in the Army, and he enthusiastically volunteered to go to Texas and Florida for disaster relief. He was chosen to go to Florida this past September to assist in the disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Irma took so many homes and businesses, leaving so many people devastated, hurt, and wounded-some even losing their life or a loved one. Eric was asked to get on a plane less than 24 hours after being chosen, not knowing exactly where he would be sent, and Eric being the dedicated and disciplined nurse that he is, accepted the call to duty with honor, no questions asked. I passed him in the hall the day he was told that he was most likely going to Florida. I wished him luck and told him how wonderful it is to have healthcare providers like him who are willing to drop everything for those in need. Eric's reply was simply, "I have to go- it's who I am."
He took that same heart for the wounded, compassion for the broken, integrity and work ethic with him to Patient Care Services to further assist our patients, their family members, and Riverside Community Hospital in a different capacity, never losing focus of what it truly means to put the wellbeing of another human being first. This hospital is a better place with him in it.