Irene P. Draganosky Hembarsky, 71, a dedicated nurse for 40 years who improved health care in area hospitals, died of dementia April 25 at Simpson House, where she had been for more than a year. She lived in Washington Square.
She was born in Freeland, Pa. Her father was a coal miner and her mother worked in a shirt factory. The former Irene Draganosky dreamed of a more exciting life as a nurse in a big city.
After graduating in 1953 from Hazel Township High School, she became a licensed registered nurse in 1956 at Allentown Hospital School of Nursing and became certified in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
She was head nurse in operating rooms at hospitals in the Allentown area before moving to Philadelphia. She was head of quality control at Albert Einstein Medical Center and at St. Joseph's Hospital from the early 1960s through 1982.
In 1958, she married Myron Hembarsky and divorced him four months later while pregnant with their son. She moved to Logan in 1962 and remarried Hembarsky that same year. "She thought I needed my father," said their son, Mark. "It was a very unhappy marriage which left me and my mother emotionally scarred."
She divorced again in 1968 and finally had the marriage annulled by the Catholic church in 1987. Hembarsky died in 2004.
Mrs. Hembarsky raised her son alone and earned a bachelor's in sociology in 1980 and a master's in health-care administration in 1985, both from La Salle University.
Mrs. Hembarsky was a quality assessment nurse at Hahnemann University Hospital, Graduate Hospital and our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden until retiring in 1996.
In retirement, she was a tour guide at the Betsy Ross House and the Philadelphia Art Museum, and was an usher at the Walnut Theater.
In addition to her son, Mrs. Hembarsky is survived by two granddaughters and several nieces and nephews.