Campus News - April 23, 2001

Love Me Tender
Midwifery's Montoya provides 'patience' care

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

Liz Montoya, Medical Assistant, UniversityHospital, Women's Health Center Midwifery Clinic.“Hello mijita, how are you?” Liz Montoya greets me with a gentle hug – the same warm welcome she offers every patient who visits University Hospital’s Midwifery Clinic on the 4th floor of the Ambulatory Care Center.

Montoya assists two midwives who see, on average, 40 women a day – all members of la familia. “I take a personal approach,” she says. “I love her like she’s my daughter. I want her to feel like she’s important and that I truly care for her, I do.”

Extended visits and individual care set midwives – and Montoya – apart. Most people focus on the precious new arrival, but for these caregivers, mom matters.

Montoya guides me to her office – Albuquerque’s Graceland for moms-to-be –where I get my second hug from Elvis Presley’s memory. The King occupies every nook and cranny of Montoya’s space – from posters and photos to the computer screen saver and electric clock with hips that swing time away.

He’s more than an idol to this mother of two and wife of 30 years; the rock and roll legend is her mentor. Much of her memorabilia are gifts from patients – gratitude for her time.

“Oh, Elvis. He’s such a beautiful person,” sighs Montoya, a devoted fan since age 10. “I loved his personality. The main thing about Elvis is that no matter how rich or how famous he was he took time with people. He was so generous. And look at the time he took with his parents, he adored his mom.”

Montoya’s mom recognized her daughter’s generosity of spirit and created a photo collage of young Liz surrounded by patient’s children “my babies.”

Montoya began her career in patient care in 1972 at a nursing home in Colorado. In 1974, she worked in labor and delivery and got “on the job training. It was neat. I was fortunate to catch three babies by myself!” she says. In 1987, she moved to New Mexico and came to work at University Hospital on the high-risk obstetrics floor. During that same period, her pregnant daughter turned to the midwife clinic. “I saw the care that they gave her and the education and love. I knew I needed to be here,” shares Montoya who has been at the clinic since 1989.

As the medical assistant, Montoya handles “every detail from the moment the patient calls.” She schedules appointments, evaluates the patient’s condition upon arrival, monitors blood pressure and weight and “follows through to make sure her visit was a happy visit,” she says.

In 1993, “Little Liz” was honored as employee of the month and also earned an award from the People’s Choice Committee for excellent organizational skills.

Nurse midwives are trained to help women during labor and delivery and offer prenatal, postpartum, normal newborn and routine gynecological care.

“The nice thing about midwives is that they focus on the woman – everything about her,” Montoya says. “They can stay patients forever and get all their annual exams here.”

“We listen to women – that’s our motto,” she adds.

University Midwifery Associates employs 13 certified nurse-midwives staffing seven facilities: University Hospital, Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque Indian Hospital and four local First Choice clinics. They welcome more than 800 new lives into the world each year.

Midwives receive referrals from around the city. Nearly 28 percent of the women receiving care last year at the University clinic were teens. “Sometimes their parents are mad, the boyfriend abandoned them and the girls need extra love and support,” Montoya explains.

The clinic puts an emphasis on education. Pamphlets abound and videos play regularly in the waiting room on topics such as breastfeeding and what patients can expect when they arrive at the hospital. “By the time they have the baby they are totally prepared,” Montoya says.

Patients love her and frequently visit with their recent additions and later as they grow.

“I’ve had a love for babies all my life,” shares Montoya, the eldest in a family of 11 children. “I tell my patients – that’s my baby and we have to take care of my baby. My babies are very important to me.”

The University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
Copyright ©1998 The University of New Mexico.
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