‘Mother figure’ HCA marks 50 years at London hospital

A healthcare assistant (HCA), who has been hailed by colleagues as a “mother figure”, has recently celebrated her 50th work anniversary at a hospital in London.

Justa Garcia, 79, is the longest serving staff member at the Northwick Park Hospital – part of London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.

“She is not just a colleague but more of a mother figure”

Shereen Arenas

As she approaches her 80th birthday, she continues to work two days a week on the hospital’s theatre admission unit.

Ms Garcia told Nursing Times that the thing she loved most about being an HCA was being able to provide a reassuring presence for patients who are awaiting surgery.

Her comments come on Nursing Support Workers’ Day, which highlights the vital contribution nursing support workers make to patient care.

“I love dealing with patients and I like to help people and listen to their problems,” said Ms Garcia.

“I like to try and make their stay in daycare as easy as possible [and] try to make them relaxed when they come in.”

Ms Garcia began working at Northwick Park Hospital in 1973 as an orderly, assisting nursing staff with tasks.

Since then, there have been “quite of lot of changes” to the role, she said.

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“We do plenty more now than we did at the beginning – we’re much more hands-on,” she added.

While Ms Garcia “moved around a lot at the beginning”, covering a variety of wards, she has been settled in theatre admissions since 1990.

“It is my favourite place to work because I have a lot of good colleagues here, we all get on very well,” said Ms Garcia.

“They’ve been like family to me.”

Ms Garcia admitted that she had recently been thinking about retirement, but that none of her colleagues wanted to see her go.

Shereen Arenas, manager of the theatre admission unit, said Ms Garcia was “a pleasure to work with”.

“She is not just a colleague but more of a mother figure,” said Ms Arenas.

“She loves to keep herself busy and is a real inspiration to the team because we all hope we are that physically and mentally active when we are older.”

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