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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 8:21 am | Fair 35º

 
 
 
2018 Salute to Nurses: A Noozhawk Partnership with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care

Lifelong Love of Nursing Drives Maggie Cote to Share Her Care

Whether in the halls of Cottage Hospital or on Santa Barbara’s streets, longtime nurse a leader makes it her mission to help

Over the last 10 years, Cottage Health nurse Maggie Cote has made the transition to a quality assurance role from clinical nursing, and has become one of the leaders behind Cottage Health’s sepsis procedures and protocol. Click to view larger
Over the last 10 years, Cottage Health nurse Maggie Cote has made the transition to a quality assurance role from clinical nursing, and has become one of the leaders behind Cottage Health’s sepsis procedures and protocol. (Cote family photo)

Maggie Cote laughs at the memory of her first day as a nurse 39 years ago.

“I walked into Cottage Hospital on Aug. 20, 1979, and had on white stockings and a white dress and a white cap,” she recalled. “Now how obsolete is that?!”

Originally from Pasadena, Cote has wanted to be a nurse for as long as she can remember.

“In eighth grade, we had these little books about our careers, and in mine it said, ‘I really, really want to be a nurse, and if I can’t be that, I guess I’ll go to medical school,” she said.

Following high school, Cote attended Cal State Los Angeles before transferring to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she graduated with a nursing science degree in 1979.

“I had a girlfriend who went to school in Humboldt,” Cote said. “She was graduating from there and had a little Volkswagen Bug. We drove her Bug from Pasadena, up the coast. I stopped in Santa Barbara and applied to St. Francis and Cottage Hospital.

“Then we drove up to San Luis Obispo and I applied to two hospitals there, and then drove up to Monterey and applied to Monterey Peninsula. All five said, ‘We want you.’”

Cote said she loved Santa Barbara and the Cottage program, and decided to stay. She started in orthopedics and, shortly after, was recruited to the surgical ICU nursing team.

From there, she worked in Goleta Valley’s ICU and spent a fair amount of time in Cottage’s recovery room.

Within the last 10 years, Cote has become one of the leaders behind Cottage’s sepsis procedures and protocol as she has made the transition to a quality assurance role from clinical nursing.

Maggie Cote graduated from college with a nursing science degree in 1979, and soon after started her professional career at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Click to view larger
Maggie Cote graduated from college with a nursing science degree in 1979, and soon after started her professional career at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. (Cote family photo)

Her work at Cottage is only a piece of her outgoing personality, exuberance and humanitarian efforts. Her nursing uniform needs no elaborate backdrop or hospital stage; the spotlight follows her wherever she goes.

“Traveling is one of my passions,” Cote said. “My first medical mission was in the 1980s. I went to China, Romania, Paraguay and Venezuela with Operation Smile, and helped repair cleft lips on children in Third World countries.”

She has helped on neurosurgical missions with Duke University’s Global Medical Brigades in Africa, Honduras and Nicaragua, and last year went to Haiti with Partners In Health.

“Partners In Health is great because we are able to go and teach health-care workers in their own area how to take care of their own patients,” she said.

For her mission last February, Cote and one of the physicians with whom she works at Cottage taught a critical-care course to Haiti’s health-care workers.

Here at home, she volunteers with the nonprofit Santa Barbara Street Medicine/Doctors Without Walls, through which local physicians, nurses and students provide health care to the area’s homeless population. Ten years ago she was one of the three individuals who journeyed on the first mission to Pershing Park.

“It was kind of scary, because it was just getting dark,” she recalled. “We walked around the park and we had a stethoscope and started checking on patients ... We didn’t even take notes at first!

“Now fast forward to what the organization has grown to become is really remarkable.”

As someone who has always had a love of health care, Cote’s compassionate outlook on life is genuine.

“My motto is I can care, but I can’t cure,” she said. “Whether a person’s symptoms are real or perceived, for that person they are real.”

Noozhawk intern Sophia Spann can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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