Keeping the legacy alive

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The Sisters are “grateful, humbled and proud” of the legacy that lives on across St. Joseph’s Health Care London – meaningful words on a significant day.

The message was delivered by Sister Jacqueline Janisse, who represented the Sisters at this year’s Sisters of St. Joseph Awards for Excellence ceremony. It was directed not only to the four 2016 award recipients but to all staff, physicians and volunteers across the organization who value and live the mission. 

“I truly believe that the spirit of those Sisters of St. Joseph who have gone before us, and those of us who still walk this journey treasuring the legacy of the St. Joseph health care mission in London, are grateful, humbled and proud of how you have accepted it and continue to give it life.”

For more than 2,000 years, the mission of Catholic health care has been to continue the healing work of Jesus – to be His mind, His heart, His hands, said Sister Jacqueline. By being renowned for compassionate care and dedicated to helping people live to their fullest, “this is how you continue the Catholic health care mission – how you are the mind, heart, and hands of Jesus today,” she told the crowd. 

Recipients of the 2016 Sisters of St. Joseph Awards for Excellence
Recipients of the 2016 Sisters of St. Joseph Awards for Excellence were honoured at a ceremony attended by colleagues, family and friends on Mar. 18. From left are Sharon Molnar, Cathy Slaa, Chris Fraser and Izabela Irving. 

This year’s recipients of the Sisters of St. Joseph Awards have very different roles –  nurse, pharmacist, dietitian and accountant. Yet all share the remarkable attributes of the Sisters of St. Joseph - excellence, positive attitude, reliability, honesty, efficiency, creativity, respect, caring, compassion, empathy and appreciation for the work of others. In accepting their awards, however, each talked about what St. Joseph’s gives to them. 

“Twenty-eight years ago, on May 5, 1988, around 2 am, I was wheeled into Parkwood on a stretcher after arriving home from South Africa where I’d spent the previous 4 ½ months in a hospital after being swept off a cliff by a giant wave,” said award recipient Chris Fraser. “That hospital was a converted army barracks desperately in need of a coat of paint, and that would have been for starters. So when I rolled into Parkwood in the middle of the night, I thought I’d been dropped off at the Hilton by accident. That was how Parkwood and I met.”

Following a long recovery from spinal cord injury, Chris would complete a degree in nutrition and return to Parkwood Institute, this time as a registered dietitian, joining the same team that made her recovery possible.  

“Despite the circumstances that brought me here, I knew it was a special place with special people and an energy that I wanted to be part of,” said Chris, calling the award an “honour of a lifetime.”

In introducing award recipient Sharon Molnar, colleague Bonnie Lee said Sharon “has personally transformed the arc of many patient experiences from ordinary to unforgettably extraordinary by putting patients first – every patient, every time.” 

In accepting the award, Sharon, a pharmacist in the Prescription Shop, said she feels fortunate to work for an organization that encourages patient engagement. “I’m a firm believer that small acts of kindness can have a lasting impact on those we surround.”

Cathy Slaa, Coordinator in the Finance Department, began her accounting career at the tender age of 11 when she began helping her father, also an accountant. Long before coming to St. Joseph’s, faith and caring was central in her life having grown up nurtured by the Christian faith. 

“For me that has always meant service to others where ever I am, at work, at home or in the community,” said Cathy. “And not just when it’s easy or if I feel like it – it’s every day and in every situation.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph, she added, “have left us a legacy of excellence and more than a life time of examples of their service to the community.  And they had wonderful financial skills!”

Registered nurse Izabela Irving had the audience laughing when she said she didn’t have a good story about why she became a nurse. “I liked the uniform. But I didn’t know it would be so much work to iron it!”

A humble Izabela, who works in the Veterans Care Program, praised the “wonderful” team that serves the veterans. 

“It’s not a one man job. That’s why it’s so important to recognize everyone on 2 Perth - from leadership, to housekeeping, to allied health, volunteers, companions, and of course my fellow nurses. They all deserve to be where I am at this moment.”

To be nominated and to be a recipient of a Sisters of St. Joseph Award for Excellence is a distinguished honour. Read more about each recipient, and view a list of all those nominated.

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