Each year, The Enquirer recognizes a select group of area women for their contributions to our community through its Women of the Year program. The Enquirer honors its 2012 Women of the Year class today at a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency.
Ruby Crawford-Hemphill earned the nickname “Cassius Clay” in the ninth grade after she stood up to bullies tormenting a classmate.
It’s a fighting spirit the Mason nurse would carry with her all her life as she works to care for women, children and the indigent.
Born the oldest daughter of a working class family of six, Crawford-Hemphill was used to being a caretaker. So when the prom queen and drill team captain earned a full college scholarship, she knew she wanted to become a nurse.
As the assistant chief nursing officer of the Women’s Health Center at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Crawford-Hemphill has been instrumental in expanding the hospital’s medical services to 13 community-based health centers across Greater Cincinnati.
She’s a charter member of Queen City Links, which she helped found eight years ago to improve the quality of life in Lincoln Heights, and helped launch the Women’s Health Fund, which has improved access to underserved women and their children.
She also serves on the boards for the Center for Respite Care, a 14-bed facility that provides medical care to homeless people recuperating from illness, and Every Child Succeeds, an organization that helps first-time, at-risk mothers provide an optimal start for their children.
Crawford-Hemphill is active with Delta Sigma Theta, a philanthropic group of professional women, and Bridges for a Just Community.
She also mentors at-risk girls through Rise Sister Rise.
“Ruby has a determination and fire in her belly that drives her to help our community,” said Nancy Barone, chief operating officer of University Hospital. “Her motivation is infectious and it is truly her life mission to help those in need.”
More about Ruby
Current home: Mason
Family: Married to Jesse, one daughter, five grandchildren
Education: B.S., biology, Central State University; B.S., nursing, Case Western Reserve University; M.S., health administration, Central Michigan University
Occupation: Assistant chief nursing officer, Women’s Health Center, University of Cincinnati Medical Center
What she says
The best advice I’ve received
My mother always said, “Stay true to yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, just be true to yourself. If that’s what you believe, then don’t waver because someone else does not agree with you. Always have integrity and you’ll be fine.”
Best advice for others
Follow your heart and do what you love. I love being in my position to effect change. I love touching patients and being around people. You have to live your dream vs. the dream of someone else.
Why I do what I do
Reducing infant mortality is really my passion and how to do that is what keeps me up at night. Ohio ranks 11th in the nation for infant deaths. We have over 1,000 babies in Cincinnati who die every year. This is my hospital. This is my community. Why is this happening and what do we need to do? I feel like if I can save one infant’s life, if I can save one woman’s life, then I know that I’ve done something good.
University (Hospital) has been selected as one of 90 hospitals across the country to become what they call “baby friendly,” an initiative to increase the rates of breast-feeding in the U.S. Studies show that babies who are breast-fed are healthier, have less health care issues, are not in your NICUs and have better outcomes…. We can create an environment where women are informed about the benefits of breast-feeding and have a successful experience.
If I were granted one wish
More than 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned. I wish that people spend just as much time planning to have a healthy baby as they do planning for a wedding.
How do you balance a busy work schedule with volunteerism?
I find out what’s needed and come back and sell it to my staff and they take it from me and do it. I get up early in the morning and go to bed late, but I love it. It doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s either that or shopping and this keeps me out of the mall.
What do you hope your legacy is?
That she’s going to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. I believe I was born with a servant heart and having a servant heart means you’re going to give back and recognize when people have a need and regardless of how other people feel about it, you’re going to speak up and take up for other people. I have to be able to sleep at night knowing I’ve done the right thing.