Juana ‘Jenny’ Cue talks about her long life and long career at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital
Juana “Jenny” Cue started working at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in 1953 when she was 30 years old.
And she continued working there right up to March 22 of this year.
That’s when she turned 100 and retired after 70 years. The hospital honored her that day with a special celebration that included her family.
“I started working with Cottage in the laundry/linen processing department,” Ms. Cue told the News-Press. “I was part of a staff that worked really hard and met our deadlines, yet we were able to enjoy our work.
“On Fridays, we would all have a potluck lunch together as a reward and when each of our birthdays came up, we would have a small pinata with candy and treats and would treat each other to lunch,” she said. “I was later promoted to Central Supply, where I packed linens and instruments for every department at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital..”
Ms. Cue said what she loved about working at Cottage was “working with all of my co-workers, which became part of my family and being the luckiest employee because all of my managers, supervisors and co-workers were always kind and made my job easier.”
Ms. Cue said the highlight of her career was “meeting so many people from different walks of life and being able to witness how much the staff truly cares for all of their patients and staff. I was able to be part of the growth of Cottage Hospital and feel confident that the establishment where I was employed would give me the opportunity to advance.”
Ms. Cue talked about her favorite memories of working at the hospital. “Spending the majority of my life with my co-workers and appreciating every aspect of our relationship among each other and with Cottage. The elaborate employee recognition parties. Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage Heath, who always acknowledged me and went along with our inside joke that I had a penthouse at the top of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.”
The News-Press asked Ms. Cue how the hospital has changed during her 70 years there.
“I recall that Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was basically a one-story building with painted lumber for portions of the facade, and across the street was Knapp College of Nursing. Floors were tile and cement,” she said. “There were two to four beds in a room. The building had a different feeling, more institutional.
“Over the years, the hospital has transitioned into an award-winning, beautiful building, inside and out. It has valet parking, amazing landscape and a friendly environment. It’s professionalism at its best,” she said.
“Within this beautiful, well-designed building, there’s the most amazing staff work. They always keep in mind the best care for all patients,” said Ms. Cue.
“When I started, I washed and ironed linens, gowns, kitchen towels, tablecloths, doctors’ coats. I would personally embroider the doctors’ names and initials on their hospital coats. We would deliver all linens to their respective departments. Those services have been updated and my job evolved.
“During my time at Cottage, retirement plans were introduced for all employees, bus passes were made available, and a child care center was created for employee families.”
In her retirement Ms. Cue is looking forward to “spending more time with my immediate family including my daughter and son and their spouses, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren, my great great granddaughter, nieces/nephews, friends and former co-workers.”
She is also looking forward to, after a 70-year career at the hospital, “sleeping in and enjoying the life that God has given me.”
“I truly believe that my career experiences at Cottage have made me a better person,” Ms. Cue said. “I met so many kind and encouraging people at Cottage. Because of that I also moved forward and accomplished attaining my cosmetology license, and on Saturdays and Sundays I would donate my time and go to the rest homes and give haircuts to various elderly patients.
“This was my way of giving back to our community. I was able to accomplish this because of the opportunity that Cottage gave me.”