In January 2015, Gina Saldana, RN, became one of the new nurses at Catalina Island Medical Center (CIMC). But Gina also began her life at the hospital in Avalon, a “hometown girl,” one of three children born to long-time island residents Joe and Trudy Saldana.
An RN since 2008, Gina received a two-year liberal arts degree and an Associates (AA) degree in nursing. She has completed one year of study at Notre Dame University in Maryland and was on her way toward completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree. She has spent her entire nursing career working in the Emergency Department, most recently at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
“My plan was always to come back home. I expected I’d get some nursing experience in other places then return to Catalina to take care of the community I knew and the people I love,” Gina shared. Co-workers praise nurse Gina Saldana as “phenomenal.” Many patients already know her and remember her and her family during those halcyon days of her youth.
“I consider myself really blessed that I spent my childhood here,” commented Gina. Working with residents and emergency room patients, Gina adds her own brand of calm professionalism to the busy times at CIMC. At a time when quality nurses were desperately needed, Gina filled an important position on the hospital’s health care team.
Gina remembers: diving for coins; the hay bales, cows, llamas and pigs at Middle Ranch; picking fruit right off of apple, pear, pomegranate, guava and fig trees; and her favorite places to explore in the interior. Memories and history also delight the hospital’s residents as she interacts with them. “I am just one of many who cherish wonderful memories of this wonderful place,” Gina shared.
Her easy rapport with old friends and new acquaintances is infectious. Gina loves “everything about the ocean, being on it and in it.” Her care and compassion is just as deep for the patients and families she interacts with and tends to daily.
Talking about her Catalina roots, Gina said, “We share a great affinity for the island itself . . . if you have lived here for any amount of time, chances are good that you have made a friend for life.”
She hopes to finish her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing at some point but for now Gina Saldana is happy to be “home.” And in choosing Catalina Island Medical Center as her hospital, she has come full circle. CIMC is delighted to welcome Gina Saldana, RN, to the professional medical staff and the hospital family.
By Judy Hibbs