From Vision To Reality: Caring For Others

Eloise Abrahams


ORLANDO – Eloise Abrahams, Executive Director of Guardian Care Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is a “boon and a blessing” to the Lake Mann area of Orlando. She has been a leading force at Guardian Care since December 2012. Initially hired as an administrator, her title soon changed to that of Executive Director, a position that she carries out with compassion, care, and consistency.

Eloise was born to Hazesther Watkins, her mother, and her father, Jessie James, both deceased in Hamlet, NC. She is the youngest of two children. Her older brother, James Watkins, is now also deceased. Eloise was moved to Winter Garden, Florida at the age of three (3). She and her brother were raised by her grandparents, Malinda and Elijah Hall.   Eloise proudly considers herself a Floridian since she has been here most of her life. Her grandmother, a cook, and grandfather who worked in the citrus/fruit industry could not afford to send her to college. Eloise fondly relates how she always wanted to be a nurse from childhood. After graduating high school, Eloise went to work at Sunland Center, eight miles west of downtown Orlando. Sunland Hospital, more formally known as the Sunland Training Center for Retarded Children, was a hospital for adults and children who were severely mentally and physically disabled. The hospital was opened around 1961, and in its twenty-year existence, the hospital’s conditions gradually deteriorated due to being understaffed and a lack of funding. A nurse at Sunland, Dorothy Jones, encouraged Eloise to attend nursing school. She applied to Valencia Community College for the Registered Nurse (RN) program. She was accepted and completed her coursework in 18 months. Eloise sat for and passed the state boards and became a registered nurse in two years. Once registered, Eloise continued to work at Sunland as a Resident Life Supervisor. In a short time, Eloise began work at West Orange Memorial Hospital in Winter Garden as a Registered Nurse. She worked the 11:00 pm to 7:00 am shift for approximately one year as a Medical Surgical Supervisor.

At the early age of 21, she married and moved to Orlando. Her first husband was of the Hughley family in Apopka. She became the mother to four children. In addition to her journey in nursing, her career has been marked by numerous milestones and accomplishments, each adding layers to her story of dedication and perseverance. Early on, just two years into her nursing career, she shattered barriers by becoming the first African American Director of Nursing in Volusia County. This achievement was a testament to her commitment to excellence and the belief that diversity strengthens our healthcare system. Building upon this foundation, she served in that role for six impactful years, during which she completed all necessary education and licensing requirements to take on even greater responsibilities. As a result, she became the first African American Nursing Home Administrator in Volusia breaking yet another barrier and paving the way for others to follow. Beyond the confines of healthcare, she ventured into leadership roles within the community, serving as the President of the Debary Chamber of Commerce and the President of Florida Health Care Association, District 14. These positions allowed her to advocate for the needs of both seniors and healthcare professionals, furthering her mission to make a positive difference. Throughout her career, she has been honored with several prestigious awards, including the Decade of Excellence award, the Grady Snowden award, Congressman Darin Soto’s community leader award, Commissioner Bakari Burns Community Health award, and past Onyx Women on The Move honoree. Notably, she spearheaded the successful turnaround of a 300-bed structure in Lakeland, Florida, showcasing her ability to lead and innovate in challenging environments.

Eloise remarried her beloved, Lloyd Abrahams and they are the parents of one son; and a blended family of 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

At Guardian Care, Eloise has served as an administrator for ten years and currently serves as Executive Director of Guardian Care Nursing and Rehabilitation. Under her purview of responsibility, of course, are residents, first. She has a staff of 144 consisting of a director of nursing, and a manager for each department, that is, Dietary, Housekeeping, Laundry, Maintenance, Business Office, Human Resources, Social Services, Marketing, and Admissions. As Executive Director, Eloise supervises all department heads. She and her awesome team recently coordinated the uneventful move of all residents from the old Guardian Care facility that sits on the corner of Church Street and John Young to its new location adjacent to the old property with the support of the management company and Board of Directors. Although she applauds all her employees, the most rewarding part of her position “is interacting with the residents and their families”.  Her goal is not only to know them as residents but also to know who they were before coming to Guardian Care. For example, we now have one female resident who is a military veteran. She plans to spotlight at least one resident monthly. The residents are afforded many activities such as Sing-alongs and field trips, including visits to restaurants, parks, and other activities. The residents are availed many events with the support of a plethora of volunteers such as Church affiliations, the Malta Temple 143 Shrine Organization, Sororities, Fraternities, and other civic and community organizations. “The support of our community makes Guardian Care who we are, and I cannot thank each group and volunteer enough.” Eloise Abrahams serves as a certified preceptor through the State Department of Health and to date has trained eleven (11) nursing administrators who are now in administrator positions in their facilities. She is a member of The New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando where she serves with the Health and Usher ministries. Her favorite scripture that keeps her grounded is Psalm 23. She maintains community involvement through participation in many associations including but not limited to the Past President of the Central Florida Black Nurses Association of Orlando, Secretary for Volunteers of Community Impact of Central Florida Board of Directors, and Florida Health Care Association. She is a proud member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Epsilon Nu Zeta Chapter.