After longtime state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger lost her bid for the seat in Congress now occupied by John Sarbanes, she took some months off, found time to redecorate her kitchen and bathroom, then went right back to work April 11.
She set up shop in a state building on Patterson Avenue in Northwest Baltimore, where she is associate director of the state's Health Work Force, a governmental body that oversees health licensing boards. It also tries to overcome the shortage of nurses and pharmacists.
No longer answering constituent questions and making the trip to Annapolis, she is now behind a desk within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"I'm in an environment where people were longing to have someone draw them together," she said the other day. "And, as everyone knows, I'm a total people person and schmoozer."
As part of her duties, Hollinger oversees the state boards that license acupuncturists to undertakers, along with physicians, dentists and nurses.
Hollinger, who says she is old enough to be collecting Social Security benefits, was born in Northwest Washington and earned a nursing degree at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. One of her first jobs was as a night nurse in a Spanish Harlem emergency room. She also worked in an intensive care unit.
"All of my prior work experience made me a natural" for her new post, she said, referring to her days in health care and in elective office.
She says that being free of Annapolis has made her able to plan her life better. "It's nice to wake up in the morning without stress," she said with a laugh.