From first steps to 25 years: Staff celebrate a quarter century at SickKids
By Ana Fernandes, Intern, Communications and Public Affairs
Old transparencies became animated slide shows, patients' physical charts replaced by sophisticated database systems and incandescent bulbs are now long gone, replaced by energy efficient LED lighting. In the past decades, the landscape has changed completely at SickKids, in all departments. Most importantly, the people who dedicated their lives to this institution evolved alongside the hospital.
A lovely dinner in the company of colleagues and guests, immersed in the ambience of the PGCRL Gallery and the subtle sound of the piano is just a small gesture to thank and recognize a lifetime of dedication to SickKids. The 25-Year Celebration Dinner, held on Sept. 6, celebrated 63 employees who have reached this milestone – a quarter of a century, during which they've grown in their careers and had remarkable experiences, since their first steps at SickKids.
"I remember I was brand new out of school. It was very daunting, very fast-paced. I had never worked a 12-hour or a night shift before," says Laurie Streitenberger, who started in 1991 as a nurse and is now Senior Manager, Infection Prevention & Control.
"At first, I just found everything overwhelming but the camaraderie and the interaction that I had with my colleagues were exceptional."
Laurie was not alone in feeling nervous when she first started. Dale Smith, Lead Hand Electrician, Plant Operations, also remembers how he felt all those years ago, when the Atrium was yet to open.
"I was worried about how I was going to fit in, because I came from construction. I didn't know if I had the skills to work in a building like a hospital," he explains.
"Working around the patients was tricky, because the rooms were tight. The offices in the Annex used to be patient rooms, so you had a crib in the room and only one plug underneath it. If you had a problem, you would actually have to crawl underneath the patient's bed and try to fix it. It was challenging."
Frank Ferrari, Audio-Visual Technician, Information Services, another employee honoured at the dinner, says he is immensely grateful for the confidence his first manager had in him.
"He was a wonderful manager, confident in my abilities, even though I didn't have all the required skills," he says.
Frank actually had his first experience with the hospital as a young patient. "My visits to SickKids as a patient were always excellent. The people here have always been great. I guess that is why I returned to work and what kept me here during all these years."
Susan O'Dowd, Vice-President, Human Resources and Commercial Services, congratulated the employees on their 25-year milestones: "It is our honour to recognize our employees and thank them for everything they have done; and for the hardships and sacrifices that they, and their parents and families, have made to support this institution. At this day and age, it is becoming increasingly rare to see so many people working for the same organization for such a long period of time and I think this speaks to the quality of the people we hire and the brand of SickKids."
Something that Laurie, Frank, and Dale all mention is how the support from their supervisors and colleagues was essential to pave the way to success. They all came a long way and now celebrate their achievements. The initial fear is far behind and they are now mature professionals.
"I'm supposed to be the top dog in the electrical field, so everybody asks me the questions, holds me responsible. I don't mind it," says a proud Dale.
Learn more about working at SickKids.