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A nurse’s last day at the old Humber hospital


It was only bricks and mortar — and creaky stuff at that.

And as she left the Humber River Regional Hospital’s Church St. site for the last time Friday, nurse Betty Matson was eager to move into the ultramodern, glass and steel behemoth that’s replacing it.

Yet for Matson, who spent the past 15 years at the musty old North York facility — which opened in 1950 — there was melancholy in that final exit.

“I worked almost every floor,” says Matson, who did turns in the medical, surgical, recovery and intensive care departments at the six-storey hospital. “And there’s always a certain amount of sadness leaving the familiarity of it all.”

Sunday is moving day, with staff at the three old facilities helping transfer some 600 patients into the new, fully digital digs.

“There’s something about a new facility — it looks so clean it’s bright, bigger windows,” Matson says. “This building, it’s getting old, like my car, and we need to upgrade now and then.”

Matson, 62, had previously nursed in the Newfoundland outport of Twillingate for 15 years after starting her career with an eight-year stint on her native Vancouver Island. But she found many of her fondest professional memories at Humber.

She was particularly taken with the courage and optimism of the cancer patients she’s helped to treat over the past decade.

“I found it very rewarding in that … most of these patients don’t take life for granted, they embrace it every day.”

And the patients, she says, seemed to appreciate her back.

In surveys that Matson helped conduct, “some of the main things they said were ‘they (the staff) smile at me, they know my name, I feel like family here.’ That’s worth it all to me.”

On reflection, however, Matson did add some words of fond remembrance for the building she was leaving and the neighbourhoods it served.

“After 15 years in a place it feels like home . . . and the community around it — it’s like a family feel, a home sense. But life moves on and there’s always change.

“I’m going to embrace it.”

TORONTO STAR | LIFE | HEALTH_WELLNESS