An ICU nurse stands in portrait.

Introducing… an ICU nurse

Rachel Thibault is a registered nurse based in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH). She has been with HHS for 21 years including stints as a nurse in the emergency departments at WLMH and McMaster University Medical Centre.

She recently won a WLMH Quality Award for customer service focus.

What does an ICU nurse do?

We care for a wide range of health issues among our adult patients. Our team of nurses works in conjunction with a doctor of internal medicine as well as the patient’s family doctor.

The community model of care we have at WLMH provides patients with an integrated system that allows the family doctor to be responsible for their patient’s care throughout their time in the hospital. Our patients are often our neighbours and we share a common bond of loving our community.

I stay motivated by the fact that every shift is different. As nurses, we are versatile.

What keeps you motivated at work?

I think I stay motivated by the fact that every shift is different and I, along with my colleagues, can be called upon to do various tasks to ensure we’re providing the best care. We are versatile, as nurses, and use a variety of skills to get the job done.

Sometimes we lend a hand to other units who may need help with IV initiations and respiratory care. Being part of HHS has allowed our staff to have greater access to resources that help us do our job.

Who inspires you?

The umbrella driving force in my nursing career is that I honour God in my practice. This includes treating others better than myself. These convictions are with me when I am at work and at home.

I am most inspired by my husband, Daniel, and my family. We have eight children, all of whom were born at WLMH. Each birth experience was amazing with five of them delivered by our family doctor and three by midwives. It was a little strange to be a patient at the hospital where I work but it only made me love this place even more.

Now, one of our daughters is thinking about pursuing a career in nursing. What an encouragement!

Some of my most memorable moments have been at the bedside with patients during their last moments.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.

One of the greatest privileges as a nurse in our ICU is helping patients in their time of need.

We have several patients who are in great pain or are near the end-of-life stage. Some of my most memorable moments have been at the bedside with patients during their last moments. I am supported by a great team and look forward to working here for many years at this great hospital.




A prosthetics and orthotics hospital volunteer stands in portrait.

Introducing… a prosthetics and orthotics program volunteer

Penny Cormier is a hospital volunteer with Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) prosthetics and orthotics program. She has been with HHS since 2007.

Penny is also a convener for our volunteer knitting program and she volunteers for the Design Centre at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.

What do you do?

I speak with as many prosthetics and orthotics patients and families as possible to see if they’d be willing to complete a patient experience survey. The data collected from these surveys provides improvement opportunities for the department so they can better meet patients’ needs. I also collect patient experience data at St. Peter’s Hospital.

Patient feedback is important. I also encourage and mentor others in this volunteer role.

The data collected from these surveys provides improvement opportunities for the department so they can better meet patients’ needs.

In addition, I am one of four knitting program conveners. We work with over 50 volunteers who knit and crochet items for sale at our Give Shops. The profits from this program are donated to enhance patient care. I also assist the Design Centre team, which creates individualized visual learning aids for young children.

Who inspires you?

A former patient in the prosthetics and orthotics program, who was also my colleague and friend, Joyce, inspires me the most. As a way to thank the doctors and staff for their dedication, care and support, she enthusiastically signed up to be a volunteer.

Joyce encouraged me to volunteer as well. I quickly understood the volunteer role allowed us to connect even more meaningfully with the wonderfully caring doctors, managers and staff. They continually excel professionally and personally in their interactions with each other, volunteers, and patients and their families.

Joyce was recognized by HHS for the amazing work she did to create volunteer roles, which included providing introductory tours and demonstrations for other rehabilitation patients.

There are also many other volunteers and staff on the volunteer resources team who inspire me. Their efforts and achievements significantly enhance the patient and family experience.

Volunteering gives me unique and rewarding experiences.

What keeps you motivated?

The people who inspire me are the people who keep me motivated. I am also motivated by my interactions with HHS staff, patients, families and visitors.

My work with patient experience surveys provides patients with an opportunity to be heard and to have their feelings, opinions and experiences validated. It is just as important for those who deliver care to receive and respond to all degrees of feedback. Assessment, evaluation, reflection and review of current and future organizational goals and plans are critical in achieving success.

Volunteering gives me unique and rewarding experiences.

Tell us your most gratifying experience.

My ability to connect patients and families with the prosthetics and orthotics team is my most gratifying experience.

I encourage patients, if they so desire, to include additional comments when completing the survey. They appreciate that we share their comments with staff as part of the decision-making process to make the patient and family experience better, including how to improve the registration process.

My most gratifying moments are times spent with patients and staff. It’s good to see the work I do with surveys will have a positive and meaningful impact on department programming across HHS.




A clinical and health psychologist stands in portrait.

Introducing… a clinical and health psychologist

Dr. Kim Edwards is a clinical and health psychologist in the pediatric chronic pain program at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Kim has been with HHS for over three years, helping to develop the organization’s first pediatric chronic pain program. The team has seen close to 400 new patients and families since the program started in 2015.

She also volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton and Hamilton.

What does a clinical and health psychologist do?

I work on a wonderful team whose goal is to help children and adolescents with chronic pain. We also help caregivers learn effective strategies to better manage those patients with pain independently and improve their daily functions, such as going to school more regularly.

I identify and treat psychological factors that contribute to the maintenance and exacerbation of pain.

As a clinical and health psychologist, I am interested in the intersection of health and behaviour. More specifically, I identify and treat psychological factors that contribute to the maintenance and exacerbation of pain while also addressing emotional distress that can develop as a consequence of pain. This includes patients who may undergo bouts of depression.

When I work with young people, my first goal is to ensure my patients know I believe their pain is real. I then work with them to understand the effects of their pain on their lives and their treatment goals. Educating them about pain and discussing the impact of lifestyle factors on pain are also important components.

I can help young people accept their current situation, teach some relaxation strategies and empower them to advocate for their needs.

What are you most proud of since you started working at HHS?

One of my proudest initiatives was helping to develop a successful five-week evidence-based caregiver group that we have run, concurrent with a youth group, over 10 times since the clinic began. We are currently evaluating the group through a research project and hope to share the program with other pediatric chronic pain clinics across Canada.

What keeps you motivated at work?

In addition to the patients we serve and the joy experienced from helping them achieve their goals, I enjoy working on a dynamic, supportive, passionate and creative team comprised of leaders in the field of pediatric chronic pain. We have no shortage of team potlucks, birthday celebrations, humorous hallway conversations and daily laughter.

I love giving young people with chronic pain and their families hope that they can get their lives back.

What do you love most about your job?

One of my first families remarked after their initial assessment that their daughter couldn’t wait to go out for ice cream. The mother asked her why and the daughter said, “Because we finally found doctors who believe that my pain is real and who can help me get better.”

This story sums up what I love most about my job: giving young people with chronic pain and their families hope that they can get their lives back. It’s about supporting them in their journey and observing examples of their strength and resilience every day.

Who inspires you?

My mother inspires me. She became deaf at four years old and learned to lip-read so she could remain immersed in her hearing community.

She once used her lip-reading abilities to assist the police and patients with a tracheotomy. My mom also showed me the meaning of being an advocate and inspired my career choice to help youth overcome their challenges to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.




A medical physicist stands in portrait.

Introducing… a medical physicist

Janos Juhasz is a medical physicist based at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC). He has been with HHS since 2009.

Janos is also an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at McMaster University.

What does a medical physicist do?

Within the realm of radiation therapy, I measure radiation, determine the delivered dosage, establish protocols to ensure accuracy, and work with radiation oncologists and radiation therapists to design treatment plans.

I am the designated medical physicist for the breast disease site and hematology disease site teams. I also look after radiation technology at JCC, which includes upgrading technology, offering daily support for radiation treatments, and setting up quality control tests of devices used for radiation treatments.

We always try to implement new technologies for advancing patient care at HHS.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I can contribute and refine some of our radiation therapy techniques. We always try to implement new technologies for advancing patient care at HHS.

This is a different environment from the academic world. In that space, a physicist has the luxury of saying, “Let me go back to my office or laboratory and I will get back to you with an answer soon.” Oftentimes in the hospital setting, the person receiving care is on the treatment bed and problem-solving must be done more efficiently.

I also work with a dynamic team of professionals, which makes it easy to come into work every day.

Who inspires you?

My all-time inspiration is Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. He was an outside-the-box thinker and an extremely popular physics teacher. He successfully explained the laws of nature without the need to come up with a strict definition or offer mathematical equations.

I also draw my inspiration from personal development, something I endeavour to do every day. This includes referring to material that motivate and inspire me to stay on purpose with my professional, personal and spiritual self. Bios and stories about famous scientists are my favourite.

Medical physics is where physics comes to life and actually has the potential to prolong life.

What made you enter your field of work?

During my graduate studies, I enrolled in a course called Radiation Therapy Physics. The lectures were held at the local cancer centre.

While I walked through the hospital on my way to the lecture theatre, I had my quantum moment. For the first time in my life, I was just so sure this is it; this is what I want to do for the rest of my life: medical physics.

It is where physics comes to life and actually has the potential to prolong life. The journey from there to here was quite long, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

What do you hope to accomplish while at HHS?

What I set to accomplish in my career is to represent the field of physics with a cheerful human face everywhere I work: the hospital hallways, in the treatment rooms, in offices and in lecture theatres.




A spiritual care practitioner stands in portrait.

Introducing… a spiritual care practitioner

Danielle Slump is a spiritual care practitioner at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) working primarily at Hamilton General Hospital. She has been with HHS for one year.

What do you do?

I provide spiritually integrated psychotherapy to our patients, families and staff. This could mean helping someone through a life-altering illness as they try to find meaning and purpose in life. I can also offer a ritual or prayer at the end of life stage, and sometimes I support staff through moral distress.

Why do you choose to work at HHS?

I have lived in Hamilton since university and have fallen in love with this city. I feel privileged to work in the community I live, supporting individuals and families going through some of the darkest times in their life.

I listen to stories from patients and families about illness, hospitalization and hope.

Who inspires you?

My colleagues inspire me the most. I regularly see staff gently explain to patients and families, in plain language, about what is happening to them.

I often see how they respond to the complex medical needs of patients, while juggling other pressures that arise.

Part of what I do is listen to stories from patients and families about illness, hospitalization and hope. It’s incredible to hear about the ways that we, as a hospital community, not only care for the physical needs of our patients but their emotional, psychological and spiritual needs as well.

I feel honoured to work alongside such compassionate people.

I have lived in Hamilton since university and have fallen in love with this city.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

It may surprise some people that though our department is quite small, we have staff at every HHS site and we provide on-call emergency spiritual support.

As spiritual care practitioners or chaplains, we are not only certified through the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care but are also registered psychotherapists through the College of Registered Psychotherapists in Ontario.




A nurse navigator stands in portrait.

Introducing… a registered nurse navigator

Annette Bullen is a registered nurse navigator in the women’s clinic at McMaster University Medical Centre. With 30 years experience at Hamilton Health Sciences, she also worked in a medical surgical unit, the hematology/oncology unit and in labour and delivery. She also volunteers for the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Canada, which connects her with doctors throughout Canada.

What do you do?

I specialize in advanced care for endometriosis—a disorder that involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis—and minimally invasive surgery.

This role enables me to provide comprehensive guidance for patients from the beginning of their care until they are discharged. I’m a liaison between patients and doctors, which means I coordinate an individualized approach for each patient. I’m grateful to advocate for patients and address their specific needs in their healthcare journey.

I specialize in advanced care for endometriosis and minimally invasive surgery.

What do you love most about your job?

I love my team and am very proud to be a part of it. Working with highly sought physicians who take great pride in keeping themselves at the highest standard is a privilege. They deliver exceptional care.

I have been described as an extension of each of the physicians and I embrace this level of respect and camaraderie. In this role, I cherish the opportunity to listen and act on our patients’ health care concerns.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by both my grandmothers who are not with me anymore but remain in my everyday thoughts. They taught me about hard work, how to love family and friends, and how to be aware of the needs of the people around you.

I hope to continue to improve women’s health by facilitating and communicating the advancements in gynecological care.

Both of them remembered things that may seem insignificant to some but they knew how to help a person feel important, validated and comforted. I try to bring that mentality to my work every day. There are no patient concerns that are too small or too great.

What do you hope to accomplish while at HHS?

I hope to continue to improve women’s health by facilitating and communicating the advancements in gynecological care.

Each day is different and has new challenges, which I embrace. I like to contribute to new pathways for patients to explore.

Ultimately, I want to look back on my career and see that I gave someone a voice, clarity and comfort during a difficult time.

I love having the opportunity to help others and to be part of something bigger than me. Guiding a person who faces challenging situations is a privilege and seeing them through the process to meet their goal is a cherished component of this role.




A cardiac surgery resident stands in portrait.

Introducing… a cardiac surgery resident

Dr. Saurabh Gupta is a cardiac surgery resident and critical care clinical assist. He is part of the cardiac surgery and clinician investigator program at McMaster University and has been with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) for close to four years.

What do you do?

As a resident, I am training to become a cardiac surgeon; learning to perform complex operations on the heart, like coronary artery surgeries, valve surgeries, aortic surgeries and more. In that process, I help take care of patients with complex cardiac diseases, along with a broad team of physicians, nurses, perfusionists and other allied health specialists.

As a critical care clinical assist, I provide back-up to junior residents or work directly with intensive care unit (ICU) fellows and physicians. This involves caring for patients in medical and surgical ICUs along with a team of health professionals.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I wear different hats in this role. As a surgical resident, I love taking care of critically ill patients, providing them with life-saving operations every day.

As a mentor, I enjoy teaching clinical and research skills to medical and undergraduate students.

And as a master’s student, I love working on research projects, creating important work and learning the complexities of research work.

The impact we can have on the community through surgery, teaching and research is profound. I love that I get to be a part of that process.

What keeps you motivated at work?

I am motivated by my mentors at HHS. Watching and learning from our staff continually pushes me to achieve my goals.

To name a couple, Dr. Richard Whitlock and Dr. Victor Chu amaze me in how they think outside the box when it comes to unusual and complex cases. Their willingness to teach and mentor me both in and out of the operating room, motivates me to work hard so I may one day match their technical and decision-making skills.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by our chief resident, Dr. Iqbal Jaffer. In my mind, he is an example of how a surgical resident should function.

A strong leader and dedicated to his work as a surgeon, he also built a reputation as a thrombosis expert, which is a form of blood-clotting that may cause a heart attack or stroke. Whenever faced with a challenging situation, I ask myself, “What would Jaffer do?”

Outside of work, travelling is a big passion of mine. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. The way they live their lives outside my bubble always inspires me.

Describe how you use social media in your work.

I use social media to connect and network with other medical professionals who are interested in surgery, research and education. As part of the McMaster program, we use Twitter and Instagram to highlight the impact our team does on a local, national and global scale.

You can follow Saurabh on Twitter and Instagram.




A registered practical nurse stands in portrait.

Introducing… a registered practical nurse in acute medicine

Michelle Lee is a registered practical nurse in Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) acute medicine unit at Hamilton General Hospital. She has been with HHS for three years, starting in a pre-grad placement before earning her license.

In 2018, Michelle won the Preceptor Award of Excellence given out by the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario. The award recognizes mentoring of learners in the nursing profession.

What do you do?

I work with a team of nurses who care for people in the acute medicine unit. We look after patients who are acutely ill and who may have chronic health issues.

Part of my role is to assess patients on a daily basis, provide medication and help with routine tasks like bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom. I assist patients with their day-to-day activities and care for them based on individual needs.

Patients and families deserve to receive the kind of care they will always remember.

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most is to interact with patients and their families. I look forward to developing their care plans and sitting down to set realistic goals. I like to find creative ways for them to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, we want to bring their loved one home or provide compassionate care in their final moments.

I also enjoy working with a dedicated group of people, each with an important function. Patients don’t just see me, they visit with nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitians, among others.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.

There are many gratifying experiences in acute medicine, it is hard to narrow it down to just one.

A highlight that stands out is my time as a preceptor for a Mohawk College student named Natasha who had specific learning requirements. Natasha is hearing impaired, which presented a unique opportunity I was privileged to experience.

I watched Natasha build therapeutic relationships with patients and be part of their journey. To be part of her educational program and equipping her with her own nursing skills is something I will always remember.

I look forward to developing their care plans and sitting down to set realistic goals.

What do you hope to accomplish while at HHS?

I am just at the beginning of my career, but I hope I will use my full scope of practice in my work. Patients and families deserve to receive the kind of care they will always remember.

I also have an interest in projects. Working on a Continuous Quality Improvement unit gets me involved in many exciting changes happening in our program.




An obstetrician/gynecologist stands in portrait.

Introducing… an obstetrician/gynecologist

Dr. Dustin Costescu is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) McMaster University Medical Centre and Juravinski Hospital. Dr. Costescu received this year’s Pat Mandy Inclusion Award for contributions to inclusion work at our hospitals. Watch the nomination video for Dr. Costescu.

What do you do?

My area of care focuses on unmet needs in sexual and reproductive health. This includes sexual dysfunction, vulvar disorders, family planning, complex contraception, adolescent gynecology and transgender care. Or, I can also care for people simply tell me they have a funny case and wonder if it’s a gynecology problem.

Often, these are patients with unique health needs or are referred by other gynecologists when they aren’t sure where to go next.

What inspires you?

Many years ago, my own experiences as a patient were not good. As someone who sought care, I experienced judgment, dismissal of my concerns and I couldn’t trust my health care team.

My area of care focuses on unmet needs in sexual and reproductive health.

I vowed to be better than that. And while I don’t like to privilege one patient’s experience over another, I’m very much motivated by those encounters where you know you’re making a connection a patient couldn’t make before with their doctor.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.

It’s hard to pick one positive HHS experience. I am always pleasantly surprised by the effort and care our staff provide to ensure our patients get the best care.

For instance, when I first started offering transgender surgery, I was nervous my patients would experience barriers or insensitive care, which many do along their journey. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone from nurses to health care aides to volunteers, no one skipped a beat. Patients can feel that support.

Our staff very much have a pulse on their community and want to see it thrive. They recognize their role in serving its needs.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert who will talk to anyone.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

One thing I hear a lot is, “Wow, you are so much nicer than I expected,” which makes me laugh. Anyone who knows me knows I’m an introvert who will talk to anyone.

I think there is an assumption advocates have to be so-called fighters. We can be passionate in our work and be respectful doing so.

How do you use social media in your work?

I use my social media account to educate and advocate for the sexual and reproductive health needs of our community. You can follow me on Twitter @BirthControlDoc.




A mental health coordinator stands in portrait

Introducing… a healthy workplace coordinator for mental health

Michelle Cassidy is a healthy workplace coordinator for mental health who works on the health, safety and wellness team at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). With her background as a mental health clinician, she joined HHS this summer to develop and implement an employee mental health strategy.

What do you do?

I’m currently working on a strategy to increase awareness about mental health in the workplace. My focus is to develop a mentally healthy environment and encourage staff to seek help when they need it.

This fall, we implemented The Working Mind program as the foundation of our strategy. It is designed to open up a conversation about mental health, develop a common language when considering mental health, and explore ways we can proactively promote mental health while reducing the stigma of mental illness.

Our facilitator team is passionate about creating an environment where people can feel safe to talk openly.

What do you love most about your job?

I feel fortunate to contribute to creating safe spaces for open discussion about mental health. Many people come to The Working Mind training sessions feeling uncertain. I love seeing people’s comfort increase during the course.

Our facilitator team is passionate about creating an environment where people can feel safe to talk openly. Staff courageously share their experiences, which inform how our organization moves forward on this matter.

Workplace mental health is a growth area for many companies and I am excited to be part of HHS’s commitment to pursuing a mentally healthy workplace.

What keeps you motivated at work?

As a new employee, finding colleagues who share the same passion for mental health motivates me the most. Many people at HHS strive to increase our collective understanding of mental health.

The impact of these colleagues and their commitment to grow the mental health supports we offer our employees is exciting. It feels like there is a team of informal allies who, despite different roles, work towards a shared vision. I picture a snowball rolling down a hill that keeps increasing in size and momentum.

While mental health is a serious subject and deserves to be treated respectfully, it is important to model self-care.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

Perhaps that I laugh every day. While mental health is a serious subject and deserves to be treated respectfully, it is important to model self-care and practices that promote mental health.

This means a commitment to choosing experiences that bring me joy. Though the mental health field is filled with tough work and distressing situations, creating space for laughter is important.

One of my dear colleagues used to say: “We take the topic of mental health very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” I wholeheartedly agree. Our staff involved in The Working Mind sessions can certainly attest to that thought.

Describe how you use social media in your work.

I use social media as a stigma reduction tool. It’s a way to recognize the amazing efforts of our staff and their contributions to creating a mentally healthy workplace. Follow me on Twitter @Cassidymi1.




A nursing quality council member stands in portrait.

Introducing… a Nursing Quality Council member

Mary Atadja is a registered nurse and has been a member of the Nursing Quality Council at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) since 2016. She also works in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Juravinski Hospital and recently started a temporary position in the women’s health ICU at McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC).

What do you do?

My involvement with the Nursing Quality Council allows me to contribute to my profession beyond the unit where I work. As a committee within HHS, our purpose is to improve patient care experiences through excellence in nursing practice. We support the professional development and growth of our nurses and support strategies that promote a healthy work environment.

Being on the council made my career even more rewarding and led to similar roles. I recently became co-chair of the newly-launched community of practice at our Juravinski Hospital site. I also work on the engagement, relationships and health collaborative group through the Nursing Quality Council.

We have an amazing team that cares for patients with all kinds of women’s health issues.

For my nursing role, I currently work in the women’s health reproductive ICU at MUMC. We have an amazing team that cares for patients with all kinds of women’s health issues, including high-risk peri- and post-natal patients.

What do you love most about your role?

I love the giving aspect of nursing and do my best to help patients achieve their health goals. When I see someone at the end of life, someone without hope who nearly touches the grave then bounces back, it brings me great joy to see them get well.

Participating in the Nursing Quality Council enables me to be part of the journey to influence best nursing practices at HHS. We look at what we can do together to bring out the best in care. I truly enjoy meeting my fellow nurses and talking about the Council and its work.

Being open to change and new things, helped to support my own development.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience at HHS.

I had a great manager earlier in my career who went out of her way to listen and support me. Moving from one unit to another enhanced my abilities and prepared me for success in a critical care environment.

Being open to change and new things, helped to support my own development and movement within the organization.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?

I think people are surprised the Nursing Quality Council is not just for formal leaders. Any nursing care provider or front-line nurse can join and contribute to influencing great nursing practice at HHS.

The Nursing Quality Council acts as a steering committee to the various nursing communities of practice, collaboratives/committees and forums to address, advise and make recommendations on matters that are nursing sensitive. It identifies relevant issues in the nursing profession for over 4,000 nurses employed at Hamilton Health Sciences.

For more information on the Nursing Quality Council, staff can visit the nursing page on the intranet, or contact Charissa Cordon or Debbie Mings




Portrait of an employee and labour relations coordinator.

Introducing… an employee and labour relations coordinator

Susan Balonjan is an employee and labour relations coordinator in the human resources department at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS). She has been with HHS since 1985.

What do you do?

I support the day-to-day activities of the employee and labour relations team, as well as our human resources portfolio team from our King West site. This includes helping our staff through redeployment processes and working closely with our unions. During the collective bargaining process, I provide both research and administrative support to our bargaining team.

Tell us about your first day at HHS.

My first day at HHS was in “personnel” which is now called human resources. Back then, we were part of Hamilton Civic Hospitals, which included Hamilton General Hospital and what is now known as the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. Our office was across the street from Hamilton General on Victoria Avenue. I was the department’s receptionist working with a small but happy group of people.

I had a health scare in the middle of my career with a poor prognosis. But I survived.

What is your most gratifying experience?

In 2001, I had a health scare in the middle of my career; stricken with bacterial spinal meningitis. My prognosis was not good and I was given less than a 50% chance of survival.

Against all odds, I survived but lost my hearing. With many years of rehabilitation along with the overwhelming support and care from my family, manager and co-workers, they helped build my confidence to perform my job.

It was scary to return to work since I did not know what to expect or how I would manage with hearing loss. It’s hard to express how much gratitude I have for the people in my life that supported me through this scary situation.

It was scary to return to work since I did not know what to expect or how I would manage with hearing loss.

Who inspires you?

Hearing loss is a silent disability. Going from having normal hearing one day to not hearing at all the next day was terrifying. Life changes instantly.

There are many people who have greater disabilities. Young and old people alike face daily challenges in their lives. They make the hardest things seem so simple. When I see these heroes, I think if they can do it, I can do it too. They inspire me every day.