Honourable discharge for hospital orderly

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“Rewarding” is how Oamaru man Philip Loe sums up his nearly 40 years of work at Oamaru Hospital.
Mr Loe worked his last shift as a night orderly at the hospital on March 29, and is now looking forward to retirement and spending more quality time with wife Carol.
He was originally from Oamaru but never thought he would return to his home town, outside visiting his parents, until a job came up at the hospital.
“I had a friend who lived in Oamaru. I was working in Christchurch at the time and I had come down for the weekend to visit my parents. He said there was a vacancy at the hospital and if I would be interested,” Mr Loe said.
“I went for an interview . . . then he rang and said the job was mine if I wanted it.”He resigned from his job as head cleaner at Beaths Department Store in Christchurch and started work as an afternoon orderly at the hospital in 1977, working a 3pm to 11pm shift.
For Mr Loe, it was a case of seeing how things went, as he had aspirations to go overseas and see the world.
“I enjoyed what I was doing … I thought I would see what happened. Then it went from six months to five years and then 38 years.”His role included cleaning, security and assisting in the hospital’s accident and emergency department when required.
Always on the go, Mr Loe said there was little time to have a break, particularly if things got hectic, which he said happened more often than not.
“It was quite varied and could be quite complex. I was at everyone’s beck and call. It could be hectic at times.”He built up a rapport with his fellow staff, and said working with great people was what he would miss most about his job.
He was the only orderly who relocated from Oamaru’s old hospital on the hill to the new hospital when the latter opened in 2000. That’s when he started working nights, from 6pm to 6am.
“I was the only one that came down from the old hospital. The others moved on or didn’t want to come down.
“They didn’t have anyone to cover for the nights, so I was asked if I would do the nights . . . the rest is history.”Asked how he felt leaving the old hospital behind, Mr Low said the overwhelming emotion was “sadness”.
“Knowing how the old hospital was, areas weren’t being used _ and it seemed a waste because there was a lot of empty space. When I first started, all of the wards were open and beds were full all the time. They had nurses’ intakes … they did surgeries there.
“I vowed I would never go back up there, but my wife and I did go up. The way the building had gone to rack and ruin _ it’s just an eyesore and it needed to go.”The present dispute between Waitaki District Health Services and the Southern District Health Board over funding has Mr Loe concerned about the future of health services in the district.
“We need a hospital. I feel they’re trying to keep services going at the hospital, but the staff are under pressure at times. I feel for the staff because there is that uncertainty.
“It’s all numbers _ you can only cut back so much. I would like to think if I get ill, I can go to my hospital and get treated.”
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