One day this spring, Nina Willingham, senior executive director at Life Care Center of Sarasota, Florida, informed Minnie Pelea, nurse liaison, that the facility was going to be visited by Life Care’s new vice president of Eastern Operations, Mark Davis.
The name jogged memories for Pelea.
“I said, ‘I think I know him, Nina,’” Pelea remembered. “Is he Mark Davis from American Health Centers?’”
Davis used to be director of operations for American Health Centers. Not only that, but he has a unique connection to Pelea, who is from the Philippines.
“We decided to bring in foreign nurses when we were experiencing a severe nursing shortage in the mid-90s,” Davis explained.
Working through a company in Texas, AHC brought 12 Filipino nurses to the States, including Pelea, and assigned them to skilled nursing centers in need of staff. Pelea started working at the center in Parsons, Tennessee, where the company was headquartered and where Davis and his family lived.
“When I came here, I had two bags with me – one was books, one was my clothes,” Pelea said.
Davis and his company provided more than a job for her. They gave her a fully furnished apartment and made her feel welcomed.
Pelea even ended up going to the same church that Davis and his family attended.
In 1997, Pelea moved to Florida and left AHC. She married and had a child, worked for a local hospital as a discharge planner for a while and has now been working for Life Care for almost 12 years.
“I never thought I’d see Mark again,” Pelea said.
Yet on May 26, 2017, the two friends met again at Life Care Center of Sarasota.
“What a pleasant surprise to see her again,” Davis said.