Cheryl Gavin - Holy Family Hospital “A Second Home” To Retiring Nurse

Written by Shaf Hussain

Cheryl Gavin started her nursing career at Holy Family Hospital 25 years ago and never left.

“At first I began as a casual worker because my husband at the time worked at a nearby school,” says Cheryl, Registered Nurse. “But I stayed because it became a second home for me. It’s got an amazing support system. The sense of family you get is so comforting.”

Cheryl celebrated her retirement with a party on September 18 at Holy Family Hospital, Cheryl is reflective and thankful of her career at Providence, and has a few words of wisdom for new nurses.

What’s been your greatest joy in your time at Holy Family?

To see the differences we can make in the lives of vulnerable patients. Many people come to Holy Family and they’ve undergone some pretty rough ordeal – especially the stroke patients – and maybe they’re confined to a wheelchair or have no mobility. To see them walk out of a ward after you’ve worked with them is so wonderful.

What have you learned from patients, residents and families from your past 25 years?

I’ve learned that it’s extremely important to build relationships with everyone – the people you work with and the people you take care of. We have to build a sense of caring and a support structure. I’ve seen patients from all walks of life, many younger than me. And you learn that these life challenges can happen to anyone.

What advice would you give to nurses just starting their careers?

First and foremost it’s about compassion, which comes from having empathy. We have to see our patients through compassionate eyes; get to know them as individuals, not just for their illnesses. It shouldn’t just be about money or making a career; you want to make a difference. Also, be patient. Many of your patients when they first arrive may not have the ability to understand such things as their goals for healing. It’s hard sometimes, so patience helps.

What’s the secret for a long nursing career?

You have to look after yourself first, so you can be the best you can be for patients. Treat your self well. Have a sense of humour.

If you hadn’t become a nurse, what would you have been?

A social planner. In the old days when I first started, we would have fun little games we’d organize, like Bingo nights or I would play “name that tune” with patients. We had many patients from the north and they wouldn’t or couldn’t have family members around, so we tried to build a homey and sociable environment for them.

If Hollywood filmed a movie of your life, which actor would you want playing you?

Hmm…tough one! Oh, it would have to be Meryl Streep, of course. Though I’m not Caucasian; I’m of Asian descent, so not a very accurate match, but what the heck!

What song best epitomizes your approach to life?

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

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