By Sandy Meyer

After 35 years of superior service and caretaking, Nursing Director of Brandon Regional Hospital’s Obstetrics Department Bonnie Guagliardo is saying goodbye.
Guagliardo, a Brandon native, considers herself as traditional.

“I’ve been in the same house for 39 years, been married for 46 years and worked at the same job for 35 years,” she said.

She said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but she wasn’t sure she would ever have the opportunity because nursing school was so costly. After high school, she became a secretary, got married and had three children, putting her dream of becoming a nurse away. It wasn’t until her youngest child was almost two that her plans finally took shape.

Her husband knew she wanted to go back to work so he encouraged her to go back to school and do what she really wanted; become a nurse.

“He learned to cook, do laundry and help raise the kids,” Guagliardo said. “I couldn’t have done this without his support.”

Guagliardo worked her way through the ranks from patient care tech, to charge nurse, to manager, and finally to director in 2002. During her time in the Mother/Baby unit, over 90,000 babies were delivered.

While her first love is taking care of patients, she said her nursing team is equally important to her.

“We have four or five nurses through the years that were housekeepers that we encouraged to go to school because of their caretaking skills and they’re now RN’s. We have volunteers that have now become patient care workers. It’s not just nurturing the families, it’s growing the nurses who are going to take care of our families,” said Guagliardo.

She won’t be disappearing completely from the hospital scene, however. Guagliardo will continue to volunteer on the Board of Directors for Hillsborough County Healthy Start Coalition, as well as teach early pregnancy classes. In between those responsibilities, she and her husband are finally going to take time travel and see the United States and enjoy their children and grandchildren.

Guagliardo is ready for the next chapter in her life.

“But I’m leaving a little bit of my heart here,” she tearfully admitted.

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