All in the Family

A Long and Lasting Legacy

You could say that Mary Hempen of Vacaville has given birth to generations of nurses. Not only has the now-retired co-founder of NorthBay Healthcare’s popular Nurse Camp influenced scores of students during the camp’s first decade, she also brought her infectious love of nursing home.

Both of her daughters followed her into the profession. Amy Ciraulo went first, knowing from a very early age that she wanted to be a nurse like her mama. She’s worked in a burn unit, the intensive care unit, the recovery room, and in emergency rooms before moving on to Labor & Delivery at NorthBay Medical Center, where she’s been since 2008.

It took her older sister, Denice Haddox, a little longer to figure it out. She taught first- and second-grade for a few years before going back to school. She earned her nursing credential at 39, one year older than her mother was when she got hers. (Mary married and had a family before going to back to school. She worked 22 years in NorthBay Medical Center’s ICU before retiring in 2012.)

Denice’s first stop as a nurse was in Labor & Delivery at NorthBay Medical Center. Now these sisters and co-workers have daughters who are following in their footsteps.

Amy’s daughter, Brittney, is a Vacaville High School grad who plans to attend Grand Canyon University School of Nursing in the fall. Her cousin, Alyssa, 21, is a Will C. Wood grad who is taking pre-nursing classes at Sacramento State. She’ll apply to nursing schools next. Mary couldn’t be more proud of her brood. “I loved having a job where I could make a difference, and I know they’ll love it, too.”

Mother/Daughter on Mother-Baby Unit


Sarah Hoag, R.N., left, holds twin Abigail Sinclair, while Sarah’s mother, Abbie Hoag, R.N., holds Jacqueline.

Abbie Hoag knew from an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, but she wasn’t so sure about her daughter, Sarah. “Right up until the end of high school, I thought she might go for interior decorating,” she confides. “She does have a knack for it.”

Even Sarah wasn’t sure at first. “When the time came to decide, I realized it made a lot of sense,” she says. “I grew up with nursing. It was what my mom and her friends talked about all the time. It was our dinner table conversation. I went to health fairs with my mom, and decorated posters for her and volunteered at the hospital. It was a big part of my growing up.”

So it only made sense for the Will C. Wood grad to pursue nursing, becoming a certified nursing assistant in 2006, and earning her associate’s degree in 2013. By then she had accepted her first job as an R.N. on the Mother-Baby Unit at NorthBay Medical Center, where her mother has worked since 1987 as a floor nurse and lactation consultant.

Sarah worked full time and wrapped up her bachelor’s degree in 2014, a stretch when she felt “I practically lived on the second floor (Mother-Baby Unit).”

She arrived at an excellent time, when the unit was actively pursuing designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital (which NorthBay Medical Center earned in August 2014.)

That meant the entire staff needed a minimum of 20 hours of lactation education, which Sarah happily doubled. Of course her mom, the expert, received 90 hours of training and is one of four lactation consultants on the floor, teaching and empowering new moms to breastfeed.

Although the pair’s work schedules don’t always overlap, it happens on occasion, like a sunny day in April when Sarah was assisting a new mom with twins. “I don’t always tell patients that it’s my mom I’m bringing in to consult, but sometimes they guess. Maybe they see the resemblance, or hear it in the way we talk,” says Sarah. “Or I might say something about what we’re having for dinner,” smiles Abbie.

The pair shares more than living quarters; they also have teamed up to adopt the Nurse Ambassador program for Will C. Wood, and actively support NorthBay’s Nurse Camp. “We even carpool when schedules allow,” says Abbie. “It’s a real pleasure.”

Mom is Also Her Mentor


Jenielyn Dinoso Lopez, R.N., and her mother, Josie Dinoso, R.N., meet at Unit 1800 in Fairfield.

To say Jenielyn Dinoso Lopez, R.N., comes from a nursing family seems a bit of an understatement. Not only is her mother a nurse, but so are three aunts, one uncle, nine cousins and two cousin-in-laws. And to top it off, she married one.

Her siblings have also pursued medical careers. Her sister is about to graduate as a respiratory therapist, and her brother—after participating in NorthBay’s popular Nurse Camp—is considering a career in nursing.

Jenielyn, a nurse on 1-West at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, says she grew up seeing her mom in scrubs. “She always encouraged the career but said it was up to me. I like the variability that nursing has to offer.”

Jenielyn’s specialty is acute care. In 2010, she worked on VacaValley’s 2-West unit, then left for a few years before returning in 2013 to NorthBay Medical Center. She transferred back to VacaValley 1-West in 2014 and cares for medical/surgical telemetry patients.

Her mother, Josie Dinoso, R.N., has spent the bulk of her 20 years on
a medical/surgical unit at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.

“I’m really proud of her,” says Josie. “She knew she wanted to be a nurse, and she was very motivated about going for it.” Jenielyn says she wasn’t pushed, but realized a career in nursing made sense. “My mom always influenced me,” she says. “I knew she was there to guide me through my career. When I have questions, I know she’s wise with good experience. She’s not just my mom, she’s my mentor.”

Now mom and daughter team up to be NorthBay’s Nurse Ambassadors, reaching out to Jenielyn’s alma mater, St. Patrick’s-St. Vincent’s High School in Vallejo. “It’s a lot of fun to be able to do this with my mom. She really helps me out,” says Jenielyn.

As for her choice to be a nurse, Jenielyn has no regrets. “I really love it. Nursing is a very physically and mentally challenging career. But, when I see patients getting better and they’re so grateful, I realize that this is what I love to do.”

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