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‘Once a nurse, always a nurse’

Retired nurses club focuses on education, friendships

Created date

November 4th, 2016
Barbara Ghattas, who spent her career as a nurse, is the leader of Linden Ponds’ retired nurses club. Here, she checks the blood pressure of fellow resident Jim Carr.

Barbara Ghattas, who spent her career as a nurse, is the leader of Linden Ponds’ retired nurses club. Here, she checks the blood pressure of fellow resident Jim Carr.

Barbara Ghattas’ life and work have taken her all around the world. She was born and raised in Drogheda, a town on the east coast of Ireland, by an Irish father and English mother. 

As a young woman, she trained as a nurse in England and became certified as a midwife back in her native Ireland. She then went to work as a nurse in the Jordanian section of Jerusalem for eight years.

“It was an eye hospital, and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity,” Barbara says.

After they married, Barbara and her now late husband moved to the United States in 1968. They settled in Sacramento, Calif., where Barbara worked at Mercy General Hospital for 30 years. She was head of the labor and delivery nursing department and later worked on the medical surgical ward. 

She also held supervisory and administrative positions over the years. 

Barbara retired in 1997 but has stayed connected to the field of nursing.

“Once a nurse, always a nurse,” Barbara says. “I like to say we nurses are special people. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been interested in medicine.”

Nursing connections

In 2012, Barbara decided to relocate once again—this time to the Boston, Mass., area to be closer to her son. 

She had heard about Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Hingham. During a visit with her son she learned that one of his friends worked at the community, so she decided to take a tour.

“I decided Linden Ponds was by far the nicest place and probably the best value for the money,” Barbara says. “I think it was meant to be.”

At Linden Ponds, Barbara has connected with dozens of other people who also worked in the nursing field. 

She currently leads Linden Ponds’ retired nurses club. The group of about 45 residents meets once a month. They host social events and also bring in speakers to talk about different topics related to nursing. 

Over the summer, Barbara was working to arrange a presentation by the director of nursing from South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. 

There are also plenty of medical professionals right on the Linden Ponds campus who can put on informative presentations for the retired nurses club. 

For example, the director of nursing from Linden Ponds’ continuing care neighborhood has talked to the group about the process of obtaining accreditation from The Joint Commission. 

Members of the retired nurses club also have plenty of interesting stories and information to share among themselves. 

“Sometimes [our members] will talk at meetings. For example, one of our group is a retired nurse anesthetist, so she talked about that job, which was very good,” Barbara says. “Then we had a lady who lives here who was a victim of polio. She [contracted] it during her nursing training and talked about that and how she got over it and managed to get her R.N. [license]. That was very interesting.”

Barbara also took a turn presenting at one of the club’s meetings. Last year, she visited the new cardiac surgery unit at the hospital where she worked in Sacramento. She reported back to the group about her experience and the new services. 

“I think we all like to try to keep up on the latest things that are going on in the field,” Barbara says. 

Common ground

Having a career in common, the members of the retired nurses club form easy friendships. 

The group also meets for social events, like special meals prepared by the Linden Ponds’ catering staff. Last year around the holidays, they gathered for a brunch and gift exchange.

“That was amusing, and they all seemed to enjoy it,” Barbara says. 

In addition to leading the retired nurses club, Barbara serves as secretary of Linden Ponds’ Catholic community, and she attends St. Albert’s church. 

She also volunteers to deliver Holy Communion to Catholic residents at Rose Court, Linden Ponds’ continuing care neighborhood. 

She is a member of the wellness committee and makes a point to stay fit by walking and swimming every day in Linden Ponds’ on-site heated indoor pool. 

At her house in Sacramento, Barbara enjoyed tending to her garden—a hobby that she happily continues at Linden Ponds.

“I belong to the gardening club,” she says. “I am mainly a veggie grower, and I’ve got tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, herbs, and squash in my garden here. The soil is very good because they put in great top soil.”

Living on the East Coast puts Barbara several hours closer to Europe, which makes it easier for her to travel to visit her family in Ireland and England. She plans to visit her sisters in Ireland this spring.