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It has been almost three decades since Maria Almeida started working at UHN – even before it was called UHN. While technologically a lot has changed, Maria's favourite part of the job remains the same.
"It's dynamic, it's fast paced and I get to meet different people every day," she says.
"To be honest, it doesn't feel like it's been 28 years. We take care of so many different projects that it feels like it was just yesterday that I started."
Maria is a Senior Clerk at UHN's Printing Department, which is located in the basement of Toronto General Hospital. She speaks proudly of her team which serves all UHN sites by printing and many times designing and doing budget estimations for a wide range of materials.
The department produces patient forms, stickers, signs, pamphlets, brochures, booklets, manuals, posters, among other communication materials for the Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehab and the Michener Institute.
"It is actually an essential communication service that we provide to all the hospitals and it is how they share relevant information with staff and patients every day.
"My brother-in-law was once a patient here for a double-lung transplant. So, when I see a brochure for the transplant program being printed here, I know how much patients need that information."
Now and then
Being here for this long, Maria saw a lot of advances in technology. When she started all those years ago, computers were merely for typing. Pictures and layouts were put together by hand and then photocopied to produce the materials.
"We had our scissors, glue and we put it all together on a measuring table, the text, the photos. Almost everything was done manually," she explains.
"Now it's much easier. We have a digitalized system and colour printers that get the job done faster and that even fold the documents."
Maria has a long list of cherished memories from these 28 years at UHN. A special moment she likes to share is when she met a prince right at TG's entrance at University Avenue.
Prince Edward came in the summer of 2003 for the opening of the new Clinical Services building, later renamed the Peter Munk building.
"We just saw the black cars coming and we imagined it would be someone important, but we didn't know who it was.
"Before I noticed, the prince was right in front of me and a couple of colleagues. He was very nice, greeted us and asked about our roles in the hospital."
Maria had planned just to come briefly for the ceremony during her lunch break. She says it was a delightful surprise to get the opportunity to meet a member of the Royal Family in person.
Along the years, Maria created professional and personal ties to UHN. Professionally, she grew and stepped up to a senior position. Respected by her peers, she is the go-to person when in doubt about which is the best format or layout for your project.
On a personal level, her family has a history with the hospital. Her sister worked here, her brother-in-law and her niece both got life-saving transplant surgeries at TG. Her mother, sadly, passed here after a heart attack.
"I look back all these years and I see that UHN is a big part of me," she says. "I feel so happy to be part too of such a special organization."
Maria is one of the 1,821 staff and volunteers being recognized for 25 years or more of service at UHN.
Tomorrow, UHN hosts its annual winter 25+ Year Service Club Wine & Cheese to thank them for a life-time of contributions to the organization.