Paula Lewis reflects on 47 years of working as a nurse in LTC and her time with Carveth Care Centre

A lot has changed in 47 years since Paula Lewis started her career.

A woman sits at a desk with a pen in hand, looking up from writing in a binderBack then, she walked into a full-time job as a Registered Nurse for $7.50 an hour. 

“And that was well-paid back then,” she says about the beginning of her career in 1972. “Since then, wages have increased and there have been major improvements in long-term care.”

“I always thought that when I went into nursing, I would go into pediatrics,” the Kingston woman explains thoughtfully, before her retirement at Carveth Care Centre, a retirement lodge and long-term care home in Gananoque. “But nope, long-term care has been my thing.”

Speaking from her office, Paula knows her final day of work on May 15 will be bittersweet after a career as Head Nurse, Director of Resident Care, Administrator, Assistant Director of Care and Coordinator of Policies and Programs.

“I’ve done it all,” she says with a smile.

Known for professionalism, experience and knowledge, Paula will be missed by the home’s residents and staff who wished her well in retirement. She has spent the past 15 years at Carveth Care Centre as the Assistant Director of Care and, more recently, coordinating policies and programs.

“This has been an amazing job. I have loved working here,” says the 67-year-old. “This family and company have been so good to me. I’m forever grateful.”

Speaking on behalf of the home, Administrator Brett Gibson notes, “If I had my way, Paula would be moving from her office into the retirement lodge because that is the impact she has had on me and our home. Paula is a wealth of knowledge and has seen just about everything there is to see in long-term care. It hasn’t really hit me yet that she is retiring, but I know it will when I need advice and she won’t be there to respond. We didn’t always agree, but that is what made our working relationship work so well. I am not sad that she is leaving. I am just forever grateful that we had her so long. We wish all the best to one of the best.”

A proud mother and grandmother, Paula notes kindly about her retirement, “What this has made me realize is that my years in long-term care have made a positive impact on others and it’s such a blessing. No one could ask for more, either professionally or personally.”

Reflecting on her distinguished career spanning more than four decades, the friendly woman says, “Whatever you do, and it doesn’t matter what you do, you have to have passion. If you don’t, the satisfaction won’t be there. If I can share any parting wisdom, it’s to try to stay focused in the moment, be grateful and wear a smile. Also, if you want to be a leader, you must earn the respect of the people you’re trying to lead. If you don’t have it, positive change won’t happen.”

In photo: Paula Lewis

This story was originally published by Carveth Care Centre and has been reposted with permission.