Eastern Health’s Service and Retirement Awards Series
Camilla Tubrett, a housekeeping employee with Environmental Services, has a lot to look forward to this July – she will be celebrating her 55th birthday, her 30-year wedding anniversary and, after more than 36 years of service, her retirement from Eastern Health.
A journey through time
On July 12, 1978, Camilla accepted a position working in the kitchen at the Waterford Hospital. “I was as shy and as green as anything” recalls Camilla, who at age 18 and just out of trade school, took the big step to move to the city from Harbour Main, NL, a town of 1,000 people.
At that time, the Waterford Administration Building was used as a residence. The all-ladies facility housed out-of-town employees of the hospital. The first floor was for registered nurses, the second for licensed practical nurses, and the third for housekeeping and dietary staff. There were kitchen and washroom facilities on every floor, a common laundry room and a visitors’ area.
Camilla’s wide smile and twinkling eyes are full of memories as she remembers those days. “All the ladies were young, and more outgoing than I was!” she laughs. “There were two girls per room, and we were all from around the bay. It was perfect!” It was here that Camilla met some her closest friends and coworkers.
In the kitchen, Camilla cooked meals for patients and staff – over 300 people. Her ‘first life,’ as Camilla likes to call it, lasted six years. In search of better working hours, Camilla traded her cooking cap for a cleaning cart in 1984, when she went to housekeeping services and “never looked back.”
That same year, Camilla also moved out of residence to marry Michael, her husband of almost 30 years.
“Patients and clients were our number one priority – and the hospital staff held dances, winter carnivals and garden parties for them,” Camilla recalls. Getting to know the patients and clients remains one of Camilla’s favourite things. “We’re here to help them,” she says, a sentiment that continues to this day.
Camilla remained at the Waterford Hospital until 1991. After that, Camilla moved on to support several other facilities. Camilla’s work week was divided between the outbuildings (houses used for mental health services in the vicinity of the hospital); the Ever Green Recycling facility before it became an established business; and the Community Care Centre at Long Pond, Manuals. It was during this last period that Camilla built some of her most treasured memories.
“My fondest times were around Christmas time in Community Care,” Camilla reminisces softly. Employees would buy and wrap gifts and visit clients who didn’t have loved ones to celebrate with. “The ‘blue bus’ was the Community Care bus, and one of the staff that doubled as a bus driver would drive us to all the homes in Community Care and deliver the presents. Everyone would be invited to come along; some of us would go up the shore and others down the shore.”
The most treasured gift, she says, however, was just being there for them. “Sitting down and having a chat with clients in their own home meant a lot to them. It was really memorable; I thoroughly enjoyed doing that.”
In 2007, Camilla returned to what used to be her old living quarters – the Waterford Administrative Building, bringing her full circle from where she started. Today though, the building houses employees of Eastern Health.
A job well done
Striving towards “a job well-done” has been Camilla’s personal motto. Throughout her career, she has overcome health challenges, embraced changing work practices and adapted to new (and old) places with an open heart and mind.
Housekeeping is hard work. At the Administrative Building, on any given day, it means dusting, washing, cleaning and tidying up an auditorium, various conference rooms, offices, staff lounges and rest rooms. Not to mention the unexpected but common tasks of dealing with spilled coffee or an office move! But Camilla remains a constant and positive force. She is a perfectionist at heart and her commitment to a job well done is evident in her work.
“I give 100 per cent, and sometimes probably a bit more!” Camilla admits, and this is echoed by those around her. “Camilla is truly someone who goes above and beyond,” Rose Quirke, clerk in Human Resources, says, “we are so fortunate to have such a dedicated staff member amongst us.”
Sheila Fogg, Camilla’s long-time manager, adds, “Every day she comes into work early, with a smile on her face and is always willing to go that extra mile. That’s just the kind of person that Camilla is. She enjoys baking, and she frequently brings in her baked goods for staff and co-workers to enjoy!”
“Camilla usually takes junior staff under her wing,” Sheila says, “many staff members enjoy working with her because of her detailed and structured approach to work. I will miss Camilla’s work ethic, and the respect she shows all staff, visitors and patients.”
“My work here is done,” Camilla proudly announces. “I’ve given it my best and after 36 years, I’m looking ahead to the next phase of my life.”
“Not coming in to work is going to be a challenge at first,” Camilla admits. However, “I am going to be strong and healthy and have something to focus on!” Camilla’s agenda for the next year is quite full. “We’re getting on a plane to visit our son and family in Alberta and taking the train through the Rockies,” she says. “We plan to use our cabin more, and we’re also planning to build a 16-foot canoe over the winter and hope to put it in the water the following spring!”
Camilla and her dedication to work will be truly missed. To those left behind, Camilla has just one thing to add: “Be honest and do the best you can” – and in the end, she says, “that’s all that really matters.”
On March 24, 2013, Camilla accepted her 35-year Service Award at a ceremony in St. John’s; she will be accepting her Retirement Award next year. ■
This story was written by Melisa Valverde, a web designer with Eastern Health.