Nurse returns to Mineola 45 years after taking job overseas

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Many years ago, Mineola General Hospital perched atop a hill on Mimosa Street. It was a small hospital that served it’s community well, but in 1974, they were experiencing a shortage of trained and skilled registered nurses. 

Through a hiring agency, Ms. Ona DiSalvo, nursing director of the hospital at the time, recruited three nurses from the Philippines. Among them was Glenda Jao Hobart, a nervous 25 year old young lady who had never been away from her home country. 

All she’d seen of the United States was of big cities in movies. 

“I didn’t even know there were such rural areas like Mineola,” says Hobart.

When she arrived in the U.S., Hobart thought she would be working at a big hospital such as the university hospital where she had been working in OB recovery and the nursery, but Mineola General was small and she had to fill many roles. 

The first Christmas she and her friends were here, it snowed, and she missed the warmth of her home and her family. 

Mineola was far from a big city, but she was surprised by what she did find here – kindness and lasting friendship.

Nora McKinney was a head nurse at the hospital and “adopted” Hobart and the other two ladies into her family. 

Hobart recalls many new experiences and great memories of her time in Mineola. 

One night, during a storm, Hobart called McKinney at home because she thought someone was throwing rocks at their house. It turned out to be hail; something they’d never seen in the Philippines. 

The nurses had studied English books before coming to the U.S. but still couldn’t speak English very well. When the telephone would ring, they were afraid to answer it and would run into another room. 

McKinney’s daughter taught the ladies to drive, and they would borrow vehicles from other staff members to go shopping in Dallas. 

Hobart experienced her first football game at Mineola High School, and attended her first concert (Chicago and the Beach Boys) in Dallas. 

Hobart says that she and her friends were invited to holiday parties and attended parties at the local VFW, too. 

Mr. Slaton and his wife took them to the State Fair in Dallas, and the hospital owner’s wife drove them to Austin to take their board exams and show them around the city.

Hobart says, “It was a good experience and I appreciate starting in a small community and being connected.”

She comes back every few years to visit her dear friends that she has managed to stay in contact with through Facebook.

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