June 29th, 2016
Mary Coulbeck gets “a warm, fuzzy feeling” when St. Mary’s General Hospital comes into view as she drives down Queen’s Blvd. in Kitchener.
She has been making that trip as a care provider at St. Mary’s for a stunning 50 years and nine months. Her last trip is July 22, when she retires.
“I have so many good memories,” says Mary. “I will always treasure the many friendships from over the years. St. Mary’s is a very caring place.”
Mary received a standing ovation at a June 27 employee recognition dinner held by St. Mary’s to honour long-serving employees. Nobody could top her nearly 51 years.
Recognized at the annual event were 151 employees who have contributed a combined 2,843 years of dedicated service to St. Mary’s. Eighteen of those honoured have been working at St. Mary’s for 30 to 40 years.
“That so many of our staff choose to spend their entire career here reflects their devotion to our patients and families and the bond they have with their colleagues,” says St. Mary’s, President Don Shilton.
Mary joined St. Mary’s in 1965, working as a registered practical nurse for 35 years, before transitioning to environmental support person and then clinical aide. When she began, nurses wore starchy white uniforms and caps, white stockings and white shoes.
Mary has seen countless improvements to patient care and health awareness over the years. In her early days, patients and visitors were allowed to smoke in patient rooms and anyone could smoke in the cafeteria. Now smoking is banned anywhere on hospital property.
She recalls when linseed poultices were used to help heal incisions and glass bottles held IV fluids. The Sisters of St. Joseph lived on the top floors of the hospital and nursing students lived in what is now the Administration Building.
“The Sisters were wonderful,” recalls Mary, who learned from their example. “I love doing the little things for patients that make such a difference to them.”