40 years of caring
St. Joseph's Service Recognition Program is a celebration of the dedication and commitment of our staff, physicians and volunteers. This year more than 700 recipients were recognized for reaching career milestones with St. Joseph’s.
In lieu of holding our typical corporate events, this year each service milestone recipient has the opportunity to select a gift of their choice to mark their accomplishment, along with receiving their traditional St. Joseph’s milestone lapel pin. The hard work of all those who provide service continually contributes to St. Joseph’s reaching new heights as an organization.
Rachel Chandler and Ann Aarts were among the recipients celebrating a 40-year career milestone. Here are their stories.
Forty years ago, Rachel Chandler’s career path at St. Joseph’s started out as a convenient after-school job at Parkwood Institute, formerly known as Parkwood Hospital and located on Grand Avenue in London.
“I was in high school at the time and it was the perfect after-school job,” says Rachel who is currently an administrative assistant in St. Joseph’s Veterans Care Program. “My job title was ‘feeder’ and I was responsible for helping patients receive their meals.”
At the age of sixteen, Rachel would soon move into a part-time housekeeping role before returning to school to complete a nursing assistant program in the London area. In the early 90’s, she worked alongside clinicians at St. Joseph’s as an occupational therapy assistant within the stroke rehabilitation, acquired brain injury and specialized geriatrics programs.
In 2005, Rachel found her way back to the Veterans Care Program working as a liaison to the Royal Canadian Legion. This was followed by a secretarial position in the Operational Stress Injury Clinic, which led her to the current position as an administrative assistant for the Veterans Care Program.
To say that Rachel has been around the block might be an understatement. While working in various program areas throughout her career, and advancing her skills and education along the way, Rachel has witnessed more than few pivotal moments at St. Joseph’s.
“I remember when Rick Hansen came to St. Joseph’s in 1985 during his ‘Man in Motion World Tour’ and how inspiring that was to see,” recalls Rachel. “I also remember when Queen Elizabeth came for a visit during in 1989 to mark the official opening of Western Counties Wing.”
While a lot of changes and milestones have taken place at St. Joseph’s throughout Rachel’s career, it’s relationships and connections with residents and co-workers that have meant the most to her.
“I have had the honour of working alongside both World War 1 and World War 2 veterans,” says Rachel. “The bonds that you build over the years with patients, residents and co-workers have been especially meaningful to me. It’s amazing to hear their history and stories and it’s a true honour to be able to serve them.”
When asked how she would sum up her 40-years of service, Rachel responds with a question that many of us may have pondered at one point in time, “Where does time go?”
Ann Aarts, registered nurse – 40 years of service
St. Joseph’s Colposcopy Clinic and Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Program
Ann Aarts began her career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit within St. Joseph’s then perinatal program. At only twenty-years-old, she remembers learning just how fragile life was at a young age.
“It hit home quickly,” recalls Ann, who was a registered nurse in the perinatal program for more than 15 years. “One of my first patients was a nine-pound newborn with sepsis, a severe blood infection. Another baby I cared for around that same time was only one and a half pounds. We got to know their families very well.”
Ann currently works as a clinical registered nurse in the Colposcopy Clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital, an area of care she has worked in for the past twenty years. She also serves as an alternate nurse at St. Joseph’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Program. This year, she is celebrating a 40-year career milestone with the organization and is still grateful for all the lessons she has learned along the way.
“There have been so many opportunities for learning over the years and St. Joseph's has often led the way on many medical advancements,” recalls Ann. “I remember when we introduced a natural surfactant drug for babies with immature lungs – a world first.”
After forty years, the inevitability of change and transition has certainly taken place during her years of service.
“So much has changed it’s hard to remember it all,” laughs Ann, “From program transfers to new buildings, yet I am so proud that we have been able to keep our core values of excellence, compassion and respect intact after all these years. Patients often say there is something special and different about St. Joseph’s and the care they receive here.”
Despite these changes, one thing remains the same. “I am always proud to serve our patients and to help them on their journey of healing. It’s best part of my job – and continues to be.”