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She was born to be a nurse at Hoag

Nicole Esquer is the second generation in her family to be born at the Newport hospital, and now she's on her way to working there.

July 08, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

When Nicole Esquer decided she wanted to be a nurse, she knew exactly where she wanted to work.

On Friday, the 24-year-old nursing student was hired at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, where she will attend to infants and their parents just as nurses served her 24 years ago, when she was a vulnerable newborn in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

"I knew Hoag was the only place I wanted to work," she said. "It's in my blood. My mom was born here, my sister and I were born here, and I intend to have my babies here."

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Since childhood, Esquer knew she wanted to help people, but it was the excellent care she and her family received at Hoag that drew her back there.

Esquer is set to complete her bachelor's degree in nursing at San Diego State University in December and will take the state nursing boards later this month. She was one of the original recipients of the hospital's Dollars for Scholars program, which provides financial assistance for students pursuing a nursing degree.

With the opening of the Sue and Bill Gross Women's Pavilion in October 2005, things have only improved, Esquer said. This month, the NICU commemorates its 25th anniversary, having nearly doubled its capacity from 12 beds to 21 and improved its services dramatically since it opened in 1982.

"Twenty-five years ago, our NICU was a very small unit and we didn't take high-risk pregnancies," said Kim Mullen, executive director of women's health services. "Throughout the years, our delivery rate has increased, we've introduced all the state-of-the-art equipment and we've become experts in taking care of the more high-risk preemie."

The unit also focuses on the family, with more space for visitation and an overnight room for parents to spend their first night with the baby, as well as other conveniences.

"You work very hard in nursing school and to have the payoff be working in the best hospital in Orange County is amazing," Esquer said. "I could never imagine working anywhere else, and I plan to make my career at Hoag."


  • JESSIE BRUNNER may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at jessica.brunner@latimes.com.

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