Meet Our ‘Dynamic Duo of Giving’

One of the first things Joe Cruz, Director of Public Safety, and Devone Deale, Manager of Public Safety, did when they began work at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) was to participate in MLKCH Gives, the hospital’s giving program for staff, hospital consultants, vendors, and physicians.

It was the first week of July 2017 and Joe and Devone had just been hired by MLKCH to create the hospital’s in-house Public Safety Department. On the job only a couple of days, the two were surveying the campus when they spotted the MLKCH Gives table in the cafeteria.

“Once we saw there was a program like that,” recalls Devone, “we said, ‘Sign us up.'”

“I feel like there’s something special about being able to be here and provide a service to people who are really in need. Whether it’s the beginning of life or at the end of life with a grieving family, whatever service I can provide, I’m willing to do. That includes giving.”—Devone Deale, Manager of Public Safety

They walked right up and made their gifts on the spot.

Without even a full week of employment under his belt, Devone says he didn’t need any convincing.

“If Joe’s going to do it, I’m going to do it,” says Devone. “He’s a special person. I’ve tried to emulate him in the best way possible.”

Devone was also inspired by his own connection to the hospital. “I grew up five blocks from here. And I patrolled this area while I was in the police department. To see the resurgence that this hospital has made since it reopened is a real blessing. It gives me hope.”

For Joe, it turns out, giving is not an option—it’s part of what it means to do your job, be a leader, and be a good person. “To truly be part of an institution,” he explains, “you have to be invested in it.”

Work, family, and friendship

Doing things together is part and parcel of this decade-long friendship.

The two men met in 2009 when Devone was hired for a security job at Long Beach Memorial Hospital where Joe was the Director of Public Safety.

“Right off the bat I saw that Devone was a young man who has talent. He’s good with people. He’s a ‘heart-heart’ person who sees the big picture,” says Joe.

And Joe, in turn, is “kind of the perfect boss,” says Devone. “He’s engaging, he’s happy, he’s friendly. Everyone loves working for him.”

The two have a similar style—empathic, encouraging, and heavy on staff recognitions and rewards. They trade off hosting a monthly staff leadership meeting at each other’s houses or, most recently, at a local bowling alley.

Outside of work, they send each other gag photos of Tomahawk steaks. Joe rolls his eyes while Devone shows off a Snapchat photo in which both men’s faces are combined into one comical mugshot.

Devone’s four-year-old son calls Joe “Uncle Jo-Jo” while Joe says Devone “is really my son, only I can’t say that because my real son will start asking questions!”

Leading from the heart

In 2016, when the executive leadership of MLKCH decided to bring its public safety services in-house, they invited Joe Cruz to develop a proposal for the new program. Joe knew he needed his “right-hand man” and reached out to Devone. Together they crafted the winning plan.

After being hired in July 2017, their first task was to bring on personnel. As testament to the two men’s management style, more than two dozen staff from their former employer chose to follow them over.

“Our goal is to make people feel that the things they say matter,” says Joe.

What’s most important to Joe—and what he and Devone impress upon their team of 25 employees—is not how big or tough you are, but how consistent you are in treating the hospital’s visitors, patients, and staff with compassion.

Showing up with that attitude, is, in his own words, what Joe means by “living from the heart.”

That makes a job description more comprehensive than some other public safety positions. Working for Joe and Devone at MLKCH, public safety personnel assist patients in wayfinding, get behind a wheelchair to push a patient to surgery, or escort laboring mothers to the Maternity Department.

“When you come to MLKCH, you’re greeted with a smile by a public safety person who calls you ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’. You’re greeted with respect and professionalism. We want people to feel safe here,” says Devone, with clear pride in his team.

“Here,” adds Joe, “it’s all about the heart.”

Planning for the future

Next year, Joe’s wife Kathy is retiring and Joe plans to join her. He knows he leaves the hospital’s Public Safety Department—and the MLKCH Gives leadership committee—in good hands.

For his part, Devone is passionate about working at MLKCH and carrying forward Joe’s heart-forward leadership legacy.

“Working at MLKCH means more to me than any other job I’ve ever had and I’m very grateful. I know that this place, this hospital, this opportunity is bringing out the best in me,” says Devone.

“I’m hoping when all is said and done, and they have a story about me in the obituary, that it shows that I was really dedicated to this hospital. I can only hope to be half of what Joe has given back to healthcare and hospitals in his career.”