December 11, 2023

Awards were given May 10 to those with two, five, 10, 15 and 20 years of service.

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A luncheon was recently served at The Hub for the staff of the West Elgin Community Health Centre to celebrate the service of 17 employees.

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Awards were given May 10 to those with two, five, 10, 15 and 20 years of service. The centre has provided quality, local and much-needed health and social supports to the citizens of West Elgin for almost 30 years. This rich history will be featured in an upcoming article, written to commemorate the centre’s 30th anniversary. The current staff comprise a wonderful, caring and skilled group who continue the tradition of excellent care developed since its inception.

Receiving their two-year awards were personal support worker Susan Irsag, life enrichment program lead Michelle Johnston, persona; support worker Malou Soteco, medical secretary Karen Temple, and personal support worker Vanessa Utley.

Celebrating their fifth anniversaries at the centre were nurse practitioner Stephanie Aldom, personal support worker Deniza Fagundes, primary-care nurse practitioner Janelle Johnston, primary care nurse Julie Nesbitt,  accessible transportation driver Dave Peskarand personal support worker Isolde Rivas.

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Two valued members of the team were recognized for their 10 years of service. Rob Wojkowski, a psychotherapist, was recognized for being a “motivated, inspiring advocate (and) professional, who is very client-centred, and who fit into the team exceptionally from the beginning of his tenure.” Wojkowski is also a keen “learner, leader, who is innovative, creative, thoughtful, philosophical, with listening skills extraordinaire, who  advocates effectively for his clients.”

Kristie Emery, a personal support worker on temporary assignment, functions as volunteer lead and community support services/assisted living support, continues to provide excellent care for clients and is an “amazing team member.” Comments made about Emery included that she is extremely flexible as a team member. She also works in the office on projects such as billing and accreditation. She is  also the “go-to” person for new system Alyacare, a new computer program now used at the centre to handle patient intake, scheduling and other facets of the organization, while providing amazing support toher coworkers and her supervisor, Betty-Jo Drent.

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Tobi Maniacco, with 15 years of service, is the client services co-ordinator in the assisted living program. Maniacco would have received this award at next year’s ceremony, but her upcoming retirement hastened the award’s presentation.

“When I started you were part of the mental health team providing therapy to with older adults, and eventually moved finding your niche in the newly created assisted living client services co-ordinator role, where you have spent the past number of years working with clients and their family members. Even through that program you have seen transitions and changes, most recently AlayaCare and survived it all! Now not only are we recognizing you for 15 years of service, but also congratulating you on your impending retirement. Congratulations on 15 years of service,” Barry Fellinger, the community health services director, said.

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Two more key members of the centre family were honoured with praise, thanks and loud rounds of applause from their co-workers and others present.

Debi Feasy, a registered nurse with the Let’s Connect Team, was recognized for her 20 years of commitment.

“Debi, today we recognize you for 20 years of service at the health centre. For the past 20 years, you have dedicated yourself to providing care, support and programming to expecting young moms, to young moms and their infants, to young families, to a host of other individuals and families on whom you have had a significant impact, made an important positive difference, advocated for, and added value to those lives in so many ways,” Fellinger said. “Today, we recognize and celebrate your commitment, dedication, and passion for your work at the centre. Thank you so much for all you have done, and still do. Today we recognize those contributions and take this opportunity to let you know you are valued and so very much appreciated.”

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Cindy da Costa, an early childhood educator with the Let’s Connect Team, was also recognized for her 20 years of exemplary service.

“Even after 20 years of fantastic service at the centre, the enthusiasm you have for your work is still very evident in the way dedicate yourself to your work, to the children and families you connect with and the programs you run you amaze us all! Thank you for your stellar work, as well as your sense of humour and laughter that still resonates even from your new office,” Fellinger  said.

With her contagious enthusiasm and attention to the details of treatment for her clients, Cindy has positively impacted the lives of many, many people in the past two decades.

Debra Auterhoff, human resources officer, was presented with her five-year service award and is a key team player at the centre. This came to the fore during the extremely challenging COVID period, which provided Auterhoff with the biggest human resources challenge of her career. Her commitment and organizational skills are greatly appreciated, having been put to the test repeatedly! She navigated her and the staff’s way through the tumultuous tempest of the pandemic, finding answers for her co-workers, working at the office and from home to keep the ship afloat and heading in the right direction. She assisted with arranging alternate work arrangements, vaccine and mask policies, always with the mantra, “Be kind!”

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I had the wonderful opportunity to thank all of those at the centre on behalf of the board, and both as a community member and former educator. I have been witness to the fabulous, important work done in and for our community by several generations of employees at the centre. While at West Elgin secondary school, I experience first-hand the staff’s caring, inspiring and helpful role as they supported our students, parents, and all youth – for a time, from a satellite office in the high school – and, now, people of all ages, as I join the ranks of the almost retired. Congratulations and thank you to all current and former members of the West Elgin Community Health Centre ranks on a job very well –  and continuously – done!


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