Honoring Black History: Local respiratory therapist blazing trails while making sacrifices

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – She is the last person many COVID-19 patients see before taking their last breath.

Cleveland Clinic respiratory therapist Ada Cruz is blazing trails in her profession, while continuously making sacrifices to keep her family safe.

Blowing kisses to her 3-year-old daughter Mia through a living room window, it is just one of the many sacrifices being made by Cruz; keeping her entire family safe from exposure to COVID-19.

Cruz has gone five days without seeing her daughter during the pandemic, the longest in her young life.

“I know she doesn’t understand a thing about what’s going on right now,” Cruz said. “And I know that she’s happy I can come to the window and we can talk through the window, we can video chat on the phone. But I’m hoping I’m able to explain your mama made a difference.”

Making a difference on the front lines in the battle against coronavirus.

Cruz said, “I’ve been in the room with at least six patients, so they won’t pass away by themselves. I refuse to allow that to happen in my presence. I go in there. I get gowned up, I get gloved up, I’m covering my face, masking and everything because I’m going to ensure that I have their backs.”

The backs of her patients and staff, as she holds the title of the supervisor of respiratory therapy in the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus.

Born and raised in Euclid, her passion for helping those in need, starting at an early age, as her younger brother battled sickle cell anemia.

“We spent a lot of time at the Cleveland Clinic. He had a lot of lung issues, caused by sickle cell disease and there was a respiratory therapist that came to see us every time he was admitted, and I just had to be like her,” Cruz said. “I had to wear purple scrubs. I had to go around and smile and make people laugh and give medication to help people breathe better.”

Not only did Cruz fulfil that lifelong dream, she shattered glass ceilings in the process by becoming the first African-American female supervisor in a department she’s worked in for 18 years.

“I’m more proud that I stepped up to the plate, or that I was chosen to step up to the plate because of my abilities, because of the way I am with my co-workers. And I’ve helped other therapists as well, move up in leadership roles,” Cruz said.

Cruz received the COVID-19 vaccine back in December, and that is great news for daughter Mia, who is still safely in the care of grandma and uncle, who received a liver transplant back in 2018.

Cruz is praying the days of loving her daughter through a living room window will come to an end, and soon.

“…and I just explain to her that I have to be safe and I have to keep her safe and eventually we’re going to get to play together really, really soon,” Cruz said.

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