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After 50 years at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Environmental Services aide Lois Alli is ready for a well-deserved retirement starting Jan. 31.
As she reflects on five decades with UHN, Lois is grateful for the growth and career opportunities she experienced.
In the early 1970s, while still attending high school, she started working weekends in Nutrition Services, part of the Facilities Management – Planning, Redevelopment & Operations Department, at the Princess Margaret.
When she graduated, she was offered a permanent part-time position working Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Still a teenager, she discussed with her parents, then jumped at the opportunity.
The flexibility of part-time work allowed her to explore other interests, including a stint in makeup artistry.
"I actually was kind of uncertain where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do," Lois recalls.
She worked part-time at the Princess Margaret and in theatrical makeup until she was offered a full-time position in Nutrition Services and realized health care was where she wanted to be.
"Patient care has always been my passion," says Lois.
'Performing a service that is very important'
Her passion became so evident that by the 1990s her manager at the time suggested she take a health care aide course.
She enrolled and went on to work as a health care aide – providing daily living support services for people who need assistance short-term or for ongoing support – first in her community and then at the Princess Margaret. She also became a certified medical lab assistant through Career Canada College.
By the mid-2000s, she was redeployed to UHN Environmental Services.
In this role, she was still able to interact with patients and learned more about the industry, including the importance of infection control.
"Being a housekeeper has a lot of potential – you get to mingle with people, you get to grow," she says. "You are performing a service that is very important.
"And, of course, you get to appreciate life when you see people around you that are sick."
With decades of experience working in UHN Support Services, Lois recommends the career to those considering getting into health care.
"It's a job to be proud of," she says. "And there are lots of opportunities to grow."
While she's going to miss working with patients, she's looking forward to travelling, going camping and spending time with family in retirement.