Dr. Edilberto Moreno OB/GYN has been delivering babies for 28 years. Based in Grand Blanc, he is described as “a doctor who has a heart for his patients,” his warm smile and sense of humor immediately putting people at ease. Born in Cuba, Dr. Moreno always knew he wanted to be a doctor – his maternal grandfather was a physician. He never met his grandfather because he was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver before Edilberto was born, but he grew up listening to his grandmother’s stories about him, and playing with his grandfather’s medical instruments when he was a little boy. He remembers stories about how his grandmother would wake up in the morning and open the front door to find a live chicken on the steps – a payment for medical care. “He was paid with chickens, fruit, vegetables or rice,” he remembers.
Dr. Moreno’s family left Cuba when he was ten years old. As they had relatives living in the U.S., his parents applied for a special visa and when it was granted, the Morenos came here to start a new life. “We were very lucky,” he says, because shortly after they left, channels for Cubans to leave the country were closed. It didn’t take Dr. Moreno long to realize how different it was to live under a government that doesn’t control your life. “I gained freedom,” he says. “You don’t know what freedom is until you lose it.” He and his mother, father, sister and brother established residency in the U.S. and eventually moved to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which is where he first attended medical school. Running short of money, he decided to return to the Mainland with just $750 in his bank account.
Dr. Moreno attended Michigan State University and Hurley Medical Center’s physician program. “I was completely broke,” he remembers. “Hurley gave me food and a place to stay.” He also completed his residency at Hurley. “Twenty-eight years later, I’m still here!” And during the last 28 years, he has delivered more than 7,000 babies. He clearly remembers his first delivery – it happened while he was attending medical school in Puerto Rico. The mother was an uneducated girl of about 15 years old. As she stood by the hospital bed clutching the I.V. stand and screaming at the top of her lungs, the baby came very quickly. “It happened so fast; all I did was catch the baby!” Dr. Moreno laughs.
Dr. Moreno has continued doing what he loves and has no plans to stop anytime soon. What he finds most satisfying is that he is now delivering second generation babies. “There is nothing more rewarding than to know that a woman I brought into the world trusts me to deliver her baby,” he smiles. Just last month, Dr. Moreno delivered a baby whose mother said he had seen Dr. Moreno’s name on her husband’s birth certificate.
What Dr. Moreno likes best about his chosen vocation are the relationships with his patients. He had always planned to do something in the surgical field, but he says most surgeons are like mechanics who never really know the patient. “I like seeing my patients,” he says, “they are like family, and I have taken care of them for many years.” The downside of bringing babies into the world is that they are born at all hours of the day and night. “I wish God would send the mother to me with a button in her belly that pops up when the baby is ready,” he laughs.
A little-known fact about Dr. Moreno is that for 17 years, he helped care for women who had no health insurance by donating his time at Planned Parenthood in Flint. He provided medical treatment such as physical exams, pap smears and early cancer detection for those in need. “It was something that was needed in the community and nobody would do it,” he says.
Now that relations have improved between Cuba and the U.S., Dr. Moreno, who obtained American citizenship in 1975, says he would love to visit there. He still has family in Cuba and he hasn’t seen his father’s only sister in 44 years.”But I’m going to wait until it is a little more stable, he says, “it’s still not comfortable enough.” Dr. Moreno is grateful for the opportunity and education he gained by coming to Flint. “Flint has been good to me. I came here for an education and ended up with a degree, a profession that I love, and a family. I made my roots here,” he says. “I am living the American Dream. I came here with nothing and there is no other place like this in the world. I’m proud to call myself an American.”
Photography by Mike Naddeo
“I like seeing my patients. They are like family, and I have taken care of them for many years.”