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When Paulina Sagurit arrived at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) 43 years ago, it was a different place.
She landed a job as a patient care assistant in December 1973, just one month after arriving in Canada from Germany, and Paulina worked in what was called "the female medical ward."
She eventually moved to the Emergency Department where she has remained for her entire career, which ends today with her retirement from UHN.
"I love what I do, that's why I was able to stay here for so long," Paulina says.
Patient care assistants work closely with patients under the supervision of nurses and doctors. They perform a number of important tasks such as assisting patients with daily living activities and observing their health and behaviour. They play a significant role in ensuring a positive patient experience.
Since Paulina's career began, Toronto Western has undergone significant changes, such as the creation of a co-ed medical ward and construction to expand the Emergency Department in 1986.
"Before the expansion [of the Emergency Department], it was not as busy," she says. "Now it is very busy, but I am able to handle it because I focus on my work and do my best."
Indeed, TWH's ED has about 67,000 visits per year. Paulina explains that even though her work is demanding, she enjoys it because there is never a dull moment.
"I like to be busy and move around," she says. "There is always something to do."
'I love working with people'
Despite the hospital's changes over the years, Paulina has remained a constant. She has become a figure of stability and comfort known for her boundless energy and positive attitude.
As for what she enjoys most about her job, her answer is simple: the people.
"I like taking care of patients and working hard to meet their needs," she explains.
It is especially rewarding when she encounters returning patients who recognize her and are happy to see her. It serves as confirmation she has done her job well.
Equally as important are the lifelong friendships she has made with her colleagues. Her work is challenging, but the "love and support" from her colleagues has carried her through the years with ease, she says.
Her fondest memories are of all the laughter and "good times" shared at staff get-togethers such as Christmas parties, which she's already secured an advance invitation to this year.
A change of pace
With retirement imminent, it is no surprise the spirited Paulina has "mixed feelings" about the transition ahead. However, it helps to know she will still get to spend time with her friends at TWH, who say they miss her already.
When reflecting on her long career, Paulina says ultimately she is proud she was able to give Toronto Western her best—and she advises new and aspiring patient care assistants to adopt the same approach to their work.
"You have to do your best to look after the patient's needs, comfort and safety. It has to be your priority," she says.
As for her retirement plans, Paulina knows she will be visiting her colleagues as often as she can. And the rest? "It's up to me," she says with a smile.