01/02/09 — Wayne Memorial Hospital nurse gets new job ... and citizenship

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Wayne Memorial Hospital nurse gets new job ... and citizenship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 2, 2009 1:46 PM

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Aurelia Dolinta, right, an oncology nurse at Wayne Memorial Hospital, talks with Sherry Rogers, director of staff development at the hospital.

When Aurelia Dolinta came to the United States six years ago, she knew it was the land of opportunity.

She and husband Johnny and daughter Yvonne, then 5, made it their home -- and earlier this year became naturalized citizens.

One of the reasons, she says, was an experience shared with her fellow Americans in November.

"The right to vote," she said, proudly. "We voted for the first time."

The process to become a citizen took five years. But it was worth waiting for, Mrs. Dolinta said.

Originally from Baguio, Philippines, Mrs. Dolinta was the first Filipino nurse recruited to work at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Sherry Rogers, director of staff development, said the recruitment program was to fill some of the vacancies being created by the nursing shortage.

"I was the recruiter at the time, and thought I was going to go to the Philippines," she recalls. "I got a visa, but at that time, we had a manager from the Philippines and she was going to visit and offered to set up interviews."

The career fair produced preliminary information, including video tapes of the applicants. At the time, she said, 22 candidates were chosen but for various reasons, the list was pared down to three.

Mrs. Dolinta, a registered nurse, came first; the other two followed later.

"It was the job, the opportunity" that drew her to America, she said. "Everybody wants to come here."

Mrs. Rogers went beyond the call of duty to help them -- setting the family up in a hotel suite, securing furniture until they could get on their feet.

"She's our angel," Mrs. Dolinta says now. "She helped us a lot, whatever we needed, she was there. Even her family members helped us find a car, and we still have that car. ... She provided clothes, food, furniture, everything that we needed."

"I didn't want them to get homesick and wanted them to feel a part of our hospital family and our culture, too, as quickly as possible," Mrs. Rogers said.

They even became family friends, celebrating their first Thanksgiving with Mrs. Rogers' family and attending the same church, United in Christ.

"That's the most important thing to us," Mrs. Dolinta said, crediting the church with supporting them through efforts like a housewarming shower.

"We just fell in love with them and she has just been a great asset to the hospital," Mrs. Rogers said.

There were natural adjustments at first, though, Mrs. Dolinta said.

"It's not a culture shock. It's just different," she said.

Like when the couple wanted to take a bus. Used to walking everywhere, she has learned how to drive since moving to Goldsboro.

But she recalls early on being at a bus stop with her husband, expecting the large streamlined versions they had in the Philippines. Some time went by before they realized several of the smaller buses had already gone past.

"We said, 'Oh, that's a bus,'" Mrs. Dolinta laughed.

And of course, there were adjustments to different foods and accents, just as patients adapted to hers.

Sometimes, though, the language barrier was just a matter of interpretation.

"I kept saying, 'Don't forget your pocketbook,'" Mrs. Rogers said. "They didn't know what I was talking about because a pocketbook was a book that you put in your pocket."

Working as an oncology nurse, Mrs. Dolinta said she initially had no plans to work with elderly patients but it has become her passion.

Mrs. Dolinta's husband also had to find a job once here. He had been a manager of an insurance company in the Philippines and secured a position as a temporary employee at Wayne Memorial. Then he decided to go back to school and when his wife became pregnant with their second child, became a stay-at-home father.

Son Aryl John is now 5, attending preschool at Wayne Montessori School, while daughter Yvonne, now 11, is in sixth grade at Eastern Wayne Middle School.

The Dolintas knew all along they would one day become citizens.

"After five years staying in America, you can apply for citizenship," she said. "Last year was our fifth year and we applied for that, and we applied for our daughter because she was born in the Philippines."

They had to take a test, be fingerprinted and interviewed, but then came the oath-taking day in Raleigh. It was a momentous occasion.

"We're so proud to be Americans, but we're still Filipino," says the 36-year-old. "God helped us and we're here. We have the same rights as the Americans. ... We're so excited. We're so fortunate."