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January 10, 2024

Celebrating golden anniversary of 50 years at HHS

Every year, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) recognizes long-serving staff and volunteers who reach 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 or 50 years of service with the organization. At the end of 2023, HHS celebrated more than 300 people, including a record number of five employees who achieved the 50-year milestone.

While reflecting on the significance of milestone years of service during the 2023 recognition event, notably at a time of increased pressures on the health-care system, HHS President and CEO Rob MacIsaac acknowledged the importance of those who have dedicated their careers to HHS’ vision and mission.

“Your individual and collective experience, expertise, and perspective is invaluable, especially to our patients and families, not to mention the many new team members who join our organization each day who rely on you for guidance,” said MacIsaac. “We continue to thank our long-serving staff for their dedication to HHS, who without a doubt have made a positive impact every single day.”

Learn about the five 50-year milestone recipients, including their career highlights and advice to those who are just starting careers in health care.

Mary Nardini, Laboratory Technologist, Hamilton General Hospital

Mary Nardini began her career at HHS working in the microbiology lab at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre as a technologist. She remains in this field today and is now located at HHS’s Hamilton General Hospital. When asked about her favourite memory about working at HHS, she found it hard to choose just one. “There are so many, but all my fondest memories include the people that I’ve worked with and the friendships developed through the years,” says Nardini. “It is nice to have a work family and enjoy the people you work with.”

The advice she gives to people just starting their careers at HHS is to communicate often with your colleagues. “The amount of work has increased greatly over the years, therefore it’s very important for everyone to work together and always be communicating.”

Nardini says she’s s grateful for the opportunity to work in a place she enjoys every day, along with the amazing people she has called colleagues over the years.

Patricia (Pat) Perry, Infection Control Practitioner, Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre

Patricia Perry has had the pleasure of working at some of HHS’s first sites during her time at the organization, including Chedoke Hospital for the first 19 years of her career: two years on a medical/surgical unit followed by 17 years with the intravenous team under the head of the blood bank. Perry describes relocating out of Chedoke Hospital as the “end of a wonderful era.”

She then moved to the Holbrook Building Rehab Centre at Chedoke followed by Chedoke-McMaster hospital, where she worked on the rehabilitation unit. Perry then worked in the day hospital and outpatient clinic for the next 17 years.

The drive for continuous learning and career-building motivated Perry to return to school in her 50s. She obtained her nursing degree and attended college after starting as an infection control practitioner to complete her basic training.

“Never be afraid to make a change because it will either work out or you can try something else,” says Perry. “There are lots of opportunities within your reach. Find something you love to do and before you know it, you’ll have been around for 50 years.”

Pamela Rathbone, Senior Exercise Test Technician, Hamilton General Hospital

After 50 years of service, Pamela Rathbone still enjoys her time working at HHS. She says there has never been a dull moment with ever-changing challenges and rewards.

“I have enjoyed all of my years working at Hamilton General Hospital,” she says. “I truly love what I do and if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

When asked what advice she could give to those early in their career, Rathbone shares that having good working relationships with colleagues can make the job much more enjoyable. “Even when the work is tough, I have a good team by my side to get through the day.”

Candace (Candy) Rutherford, Technical Specialist, Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program, Hamilton General Hospital

Candace (Candy) Rutherford’s 50 years of service began in microbiology at HHS’s Hamilton General Hospital, where she had a dream to make a difference in health care.

Rutherford says the great memories she’s made throughout her career are all thanks to the people she’s worked with and the excitement of working in microbiology. She reflected on some of her earliest memories at HHS and some of the changes between now and then. “It is always fun to find a new organism you haven’t seen before and identify it yourself,” says Rutherford. “Back in the day, before the most recent technology, it was exciting to figure out results manually on your own.”

For those who are just starting their own careers in health care, Rutherford offers some sage advice.

“It is a wasted day if you did not learn something. Try to learn something new every day. Remember there is a person at the end of the specimen and we are here to make people better.”

Connie Gittens Webber, Infection Control Practitioner, McMaster University Medical Centre

While Connie Gittens Webber has been with HHS for 50 years, she has spent the last 16 years as an infection control practitioner. “My background in a microbiology lab was a good fit for this work, it prepared me for the role,” explains Gittens Webber. “There are so many aspects of my job that you would never think would involve infection control. It makes every day new and exciting.”

When asked to reflect on being recognized for her 50 years at HHS, Webber is humble in her response. “The truth is I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to work for HHS.”

She has offers some sound advice for those who are new to health care. “Find a career that excites you every single day. It will never be a dull moment and in the blink of an eye, 50 years will have passed.”