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"Hello! How can I help you?"
Angie Negrotto was a familiar presence at the Toronto Western Hospital’s (TW) Information Desk, confidently giving visitors the information and directions they need to find their way around the hospital, and waving to staff as they pass by.
But after 33 years of greeting countless visitors, Angie retired at the end of December from the job she has truly loved.
"I have loved every minute of this job!” Angie exclaims. “It gave me great joy and pleasure to work and help patients, visitors and staff."
It was her professionalism during a difficult time that got her the job in 1986.
Then 20, Angie had an interview at TW where her brother and sister both worked at the time. Her sister had let her know about a position with the Information Desk, and Angie was eager for her interview when her beloved mother's uncle died the same morning.
"I was really emotional," Angie recalls. "I told the manager, Enza, what happened and she asked if I wanted to delay the interview, but I really wanted the job so I told her I wanted to go ahead.
"And I got the job!" she continues. "Enza was so impressed at how I put everything aside and did the interview, she gave me the job on the spot. I couldn’t believe it!""
The two colleagues were soon friends, one of the many “beautiful” friendships Angie developed over her many years at the hospital while she navigated the ups and downs of working at the Information Desk, and was even named one of UHN’s Employees of the Year in 1992.
Her biggest challenge: keeping up with the constant change of information, schedules and services that comes with a large hospital – including to the ones in her own department.
"The Information Desk team was flipped and flopped all over the place, I felt like a pancake," Angie says, laughing. "We were originally part of communications with Switchboard and then part of Security, part of Support Services and we eventually merged with Admitting which gave a new side to our jobs.
"I had a lot of managers! But it was wonderful, I learned something from each and every one of them."
Although she loves helping people, not all visitors have been friendly but Angie always made a point to show her best side.
"I told myself a long time ago to treat everyone like they're my parents," she says. “You can recognize when people are in distress, and I always tried to put myself in their situation."
"But I also like to say I'm like a truck driver," she jokes. "Nothing bothers me."
Staff will miss seeing Angie’s smiling face in TW's Atrium, as well as her greeting visitors in full costume every Halloween – a tradition she kept up for many years – but it is time for other adventures.
She's ready to spend time with her husband and friends, bake, and go on a much anticipated trip to Italy, where her family is from.
"It was a nice feeling to be known as the 'Info Queen,'" she says. "I'm thankful for all the memories and good times."