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Katie and Louie Roposa have been married for 18 years, but their bond with UHN is even deeper.
This year, Louie and Katie will be celebrating 29 and 32 years with UHN, respectively. With so much of their lives dedicated to the organization, it's hardly surprising it had at least a small supporting role in their love story.
"I had a friend and co-worker who became a patient at Toronto General," says Louie, a Porter at Toronto General Hospital (TGH). "He happened to be Katie's patient and he tried to set us up."
"It's funny how things happen for a reason because he only became my patient since there wasn't space on the unit he was on," adds Katie, Director of Research Quality Integration. "So he tried to play matchmaker and I just kept telling him I didn't want to be set up."
Although his first attempt was unsuccessful, Katie and Louie's mutual friend finally succeeded in introducing them outside of work. Six years later, he was the best man at their wedding.
They now have a son, 14, and a daughter, 12, but both say they've also built a family at UHN.
"What I like about working here so long is that no matter how big it's become I still think it feels like a family," Louie says. "I have a core group of friends that I feel like I've grown up with."
Louie and Katie recently toasted their careers and reminisced with long-time friends and colleagues at UHN's annual 25 + Year Service Club Wine & Cheese Event at the Chelsea Hotel.
About 1,864 employees and volunteers completed 25 years or more service at UHN at the end of 2015.
After dating for only a month, UHN would knit Katie and Louie together once again. Katie would end up caring for Louie's father – who he hadn't seen in over a decade. Louie and his parents were able to reconnect before his father passed on Boxing Day.
(Photo: Katie and Louie Roposa)
A career with UHN – Louie Roposa
Even before beginning his career at TGH, Louie already felt that it was like a second home.
"My mom worked in Housekeeping at Toronto General for 34 years," says Louie. "I remember coming to the General as a little kid when my mom couldn't get a babysitter. I'd roam the hospital all day – I knew this place backwards and forwards."
After working as a student for several summers, Louie was hired on full-time to work in Housekeeping on June 1, 1987. Later he would move to transportation where he now works as a porter.
"I've been at Toronto General my entire career – a lifer," he says, smiling. "I've worked all over TGH – in office areas, patient areas, mail delivery – and have met so many people. The best part for me is working with patients. Some of them are really sick and you get to know them after a while and I just try to make their day a bit better."
"I have patients I haven't seen in sometimes 15, 20 years and they come up to me and say, 'I remember you, you used to take me here and there.' It's nice to know I made a difference that they would remember me."
A career with UHN – Katie Roposa
After graduating from high school, Katie took a job in the kitchen of Peel Memorial Hospital while also working towards her nursing diploma at George Brown College. Upon completing nursing school, she applied to work at TGH.
"I've held eight different positions at UHN," says Katie. "I started on September 10, 1984 at Toronto General as a nurse in General Medicine. The Bell Wing, the building I worked in, doesn't even exist anymore – that makes me feel old," she says with a laugh.
Katie's career would then take her to work in the Intensive Care Unit for 10 years, then to the Multi-organ Transplant Program doing transplant coordination for donor and recipient surgeries. Later she would move to the HIV clinic in the mid-1990s coordinating research studies.
"This was during a time when there was still a lot of learning being done about the HIV virus. Patients were very sick and dying, and the medications could be harsh. But there were some great breakthroughs in treatment," Katie says. "I remember the early days when I worked in general medicine, when patients were in isolation rooms and cleaning staff didn't want to go in; nurses didn't want to go in. We've come a long way.
"That's one of the most interesting parts about working here this long is that we've been able see a lot of important societal and healthcare milestones," she adds.
Katie would go on to launch and manage the Clinical Studies Resource Centre, and later established the Research Quality Improvement Program, where she is now the director of Research Quality Integration across all four UHN sites.
Growing with an organization for over 25 years
Long standing service with UHN is a family affair for the Roposas as well.
"We've calculated that by June 2019 our family together, including my mother, will have 100 years with UHN," Louie says.
"Who knows? Maybe our kids will carry on the tradition," Katie adds.
The Roposas say a sense of community and the opportunity to grow and make a difference within the organization make UHN a great place to work.
"We've been able to experience having new people come in with bright, fresh ideas and this creates an excitement for change," Katie says. "Then there are others like us who've been here a long time and have the memory, experience, and context. When you put both those perspectives together it's really powerful."
"I wouldn't want to work anywhere else. I've really enjoyed it here."