Beth Scalco, a self-proclaimed second career nurse, began as a teacher, working evenings in business education. When she and her husband decided to have kids, she made the decision to transition into the Jefferson Parish public school system and settled in at Ralph J. Bunche Elementary. She fell hard and fast for a precious group of promising but impoverished kids with special needs.
“Teachers aren’t lining up to work Bunche Elementary, where the kids and their families struggle with a great deal of emotional, psychological and financial hardships,” Beth said. She looked different than her kids and their families, and not just because she was eight months pregnant. Due to school system policy, teachers aren’t able to stay in one spot very long. She was heartbroken to leave her babies behind, but she trusted in God’s plan and her purpose.
Her family relocated to Ascension Parish where, after a couple of false starts in the school system, she decided to go back to school and study nursing. Beth giggled as she said, “I planned to enroll at Baton Rouge Community College, but my cousin looked at me and said, ‘Girl, you’re too old for this. You need to go straight to BSN. You need to go to FranU!”
Her time there only solidified her passion for those most in need and her love for the FMOLHS mission. “I know what it feels like to struggle, and I believe I can make the greatest impact as a community care nurse,” Beth said.
After graduating, she found a job at St. Elizabeth Hospital (Our Lady of the Lake Ascension) and loved it. “We met the community right where they were,” Beth said. “I was able to do everything. I had found my home.”
Before long, Beth and her husband realized that their growing family needed more room and more space for little boy adventures. They settled on a move to the Northshore. “I told my husband I wasn’t going to live in Covington or Mandeville. I was going to the country,” Beth said. She interviewed at several hospitals across St. Tammany Parish, but every time she heard the words, “We serve a higher-end clientele”, she thought of her Bunche Village kids and the space in her heart they had filled. St. Tammany wasn’t the community she felt called to serve.
Then she saw a job posting for Our Lady of the Angels Hospital emergency department, and she applied. She met with Mark Kellar, the emergency department nurse manager, and the team. They were a family, and she knew these were her people. “It’s a really good fit for me. The nursing team is so helpful and supportive. We have fun and we work hard,” Beth said. “It’s been a great journey. As I sit overlooking our six acres with my boys, I know I made the right choice. I found my way home again.”