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 firstname.lastname@example.org.