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September 28, 2021, Santa Cruz, CaliforniaDignity Health-Dominican Hospital celebrated a milestone event on September 14. On that day in 1941, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a small group of Adrian Dominican Sisters opened Sisters Hospital in Santa Cruz (Holy Cross), California. Eight decades later, doctors, administrators, hospital staff, volunteers, local community members, and Adrian Dominican Sisters gathered via Zoom to celebrate the hospital’s milestone years of service and its influence on the people of the area.

The celebration, in the context of a prayer service, included talks by administrators, a Scriptural reflection, and a slideshow showcasing the hospital’s 80 years of caring for the local community and living out the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

“We celebrate 80 years and a singular commitment to the Santa Cruz community,” said Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President of Dominican Hospital. “We have been involved since the Sisters came in 1941. It is our Sisters’ heritage that is the underpinning of all we do today.” 

Nanette also spoke of the hospital’s 80 years of caring. “Perhaps the last 18 months, in mortal combat with the COVID-19 pandemic, best illustrates that commitment,” she said. She noted the leadership Dominican had shown in its vaccinations of healthcare workers, Sisters, teachers, farm workers, neighbors, and friends. “It can be said that responding quickly and creatively to our underserved populations [during the pandemic] was our finest hour.”

Todd Strumwasser, Division President of the Northern California Lakefront Division of CommonSpirit Health, congratulated Dominican Hospital on its high percentage of vaccinations and on the dedication of its staff. “Dominican Hospital is one of the busiest in our division,” he said. “Everyone shows up, does their job, takes care of the patients. I’m very proud of the work that’s been done at Dominican.”

Dominican Hospital is one of 1,000 care sites in 21 states in CommonSpirit Health, a faith-based health system formed from the 2019 alignment of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives.

Sister Adrienne Piennette, OP

Sister Adrienne Piennette, OP, Volunteer Services Representative, reflected on the message of Matthew 25: that any care offered to “the least of these” is offered to Jesus. The Sisters who founded Sisters Hospital – now Dominican Hospital – made that reading come alive, Sister Adrienne said. “I also think that the nurses, doctors, and all of our co-workers today and every day are continuing to keep that a living legacy.” 

What began as an 18-bed hospital has grown to 222 beds “and is recognized for the new and exciting ways in which we care for the community,” she said. Dominican Hospital’s programs include emergency services, a birthing center, acute rehabilitation, cardiac care, a mobile unit to reach underserved populations, and wellness programs.

Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP

Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP, Vice President of Mission Integration at Dominican Hospital, spoke of the pride that Adrian Dominican Sisters feel in the “outstanding accomplishments of Dominican Hospital through these eight decades.” 

In her closing remarks, Nanette extended her gratitude and that of the Dominican Hospital community to the 92 Adrian Dominican Sisters who had served at the hospital over the years and to the countless Sisters who keep it in their prayers. “I would say that the entire city of Santa Cruz is a better place because of your collaboration and your kindness,” she said. Read her commentary on Dominican Hospital’s 80th anniversary celebration here.

The celebration included the presentation of important symbols of Dominican Hospital’s ministry through the years: the hospital’s mission, vision, and values statement; a copy of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians; pictures of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena; a stethoscope representing the ministry of the nurses; and the names of Adrian Dominican Sisters who ministered at the hospital.

The concluding slide show depicted historic events and photos and celebrated Dominican Hospital’s decades of innovation, mission, healing, and gratitude. 


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