Our Stories


Remembering Barbara Trotter, R.N.

Fellow Employees Were Her "Hoag Family"

Nurse Barbara Trotter met her husband James at a hospital in Everett, Washington, when he came in with appendicitis. He’d just been discharged from the US Navy. She loved his blue eyes enough to ignore the nursing school edict to never become involved with a patient.

Married in 1949, the couple moved to Orange County in 1950 to help his parents at Trotter’s Bakery in Laguna Beach. Barbara began work at Santa Ana Memorial, one of the few hospitals open at that time in Orange County. Her commute was an arduous one. Without freeways, she made the drive from their home in Laguna Beach to Santa Ana on surface streets.

Barbara was thrilled to discover that a new hospital was opening in Newport Beach. In 1952, she became one of the first nurses hired to attend patients at the 75-bed facility. Driving up Pacific Coast Highway to the hospital on the hill was a pleasure. Barbara remembered the dirt roads that led to Hoag in those first days, and the fact that there was nothing around the hospital.

Barbara and James welcomed their daughter Debby in 1950. She was the first child in a succession of six children who would bless the family between 1950 and 1967. When their second child Bill was born in 1954, work became too much to juggle with two small children at home. Barbara left Hoag to turn her attention to motherhood. But the hospital never left her affections. As soon as her youngest child Tom entered school, Barbara went back.

She was needed in the Emergency Room. Barbara loved the variety, the excitement, and the people she met there. Leaving her busy home life every evening once all the children were tucked in bed, Barbara worked the graveyard shift, starting work at 11 p.m. and ending her shift at 7 a.m. She called her time in the ER her “therapy.”

Barbara relished the training she took to become one of the first Paramedic Nurses at Hoag. She talked to medics on the phone when they arrived at the scenes of accidents and other medical incidents, helped decide on courses of treatment, and then followed up with those same cases when the patients arrived in the ER.

A consummate care-giver, Barbara nursed her patients at work, and nursed her husband James through a couple dozen or more surgeries of various types. She also cared for her mother for 17 years, after she moved in with Barbara and James in Costa Mesa.

By the time Barbara retired in 1992, she had logged 32 years as a Hoag nurse. An active retiree, Barbara loved garage sales and travel and was able to do a lot of both. As good as life was, Barbara never stopped loving Hoag Hospital. Her “home family” got to know her “Hoag family” through her stories and anecdotes.

Barbara passed away on May 15, 2015 at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. Her memory lives on at the hospital, where she can be seen in the mural on the first floor by the west wing elevators. In the photo above, Barbara is smiling widely - happy to be at Hoag.

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