One of Bradenton’s most well-known and admired baby doctors has decided to retire after three decades of delivering newborns in Manatee County.
Dr. Jose Matta, who has been on the staff of Manatee Memorial Hospital for 30 years and was the former owner of West Coast OB-GYN, 513 Manatee Ave. E., will retire on Friday.
In Manatee County, babies are delivered only at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Memorial Hospital, where Matta spent all of his time, guiding parents through their nine-month journey to their big day.
He will do anything for a patient. But he also will stand up for his staff. He always had our backs.
Sherry Cavey on Dr. Jose Matta
Although retirement is usually anticipated with glee, in the case of the 70-year-old Matta, not so much. Matta wasn’t smiling on Thursday when he was asked to talk about not delivering babies anymore.
He’ll miss bringing babies into the world and working alongside the fun staff at West Coast, which includes his daughter, Dr. Karen Matta Toomey, Dr. Michele Lemay, office manager Sherry Cavey, who stays on top of Matta’s schedule, and the dramatic Ashley Pollock, a staffer Matta has nicknamed “Nicole from Hollywood” because she reminds him of actress Nicole Kidman.
“I still enjoy what I do,” Matta said. “I will definitely miss it.”
The doctor indicated that it’s just time to move on, a personal decision, something he felt was right.
“He will do anything for a patient,” Cavey said of Matta. “But he also will stand up for his staff. He always had our backs.”
His last delivery was special
Matta estimates he has delivered more than 3,000 babies, including the babies of former babies.
If Matta had to say goodbye to deliveries, having the last baby be tiny, delicate Eleanor Rose Fridley, was particularly special.
Eleanor Rose, who Matta delivered on Wednesday, is the daughter of Chris and Elizabeth Fridley. Elizabeth “Liz” Fridley is a nurse in the cardiac catheter lab at Manatee Memorial Hospital. Fridley was Matta’s nurse a while ago when the doctor had a procedure in the cardiac lab. Chris Fridley is a former IMG Academy employee.
“She helped me,” Matta said, giving Liz Fridley a hug in the hospital’s Mommy Center Thursday. “I was her patient once, and now I was able to deliver her baby.”
“I’m honored that Eleanor is his last baby,” Fridley said. “He’s awesome. Everyone loves him. I saw him the day before I had her, and he saw me crying because I was having contractions and he came in and helped me. He has so much compassion.”
Kind, honest and sincere
Although very shy and humble talking about himself, others don’t mind talking about Matta, especially Matta’s wife, Gladys, who is proud of their 46-year marriage.
“I found him to be the perfect gentleman,” Gladys Matta said as she recalled dating her future husband, who was born in Puerto Rico. “I was impressed by his kind nature, honesty and sincerity. He has big eyes and a beautiful nose. He really cares and loves what he does. He is always focused on the well-being of his patients.
“I think my husband loved having a relationship with parents for nine months, then giving them the most wonderful gift ever,” Matta added.
One of the things Dr. Matta will do after he retires is take care of his car collection, which includes sports and antique cars. He owns 17. Many are in warehouses. Among his favorites are a 1974 red Pantera and a 1987 red Porsche Carrera.
“We hear him leave the office in most of his cars,” Cavey said. “He spins the wheels.”