AVONMORE — Gloria Logtens works her final day at the Avonmore office of Dr. Martin Racine on Wednesday of this week, concluding a nursing career that began 47 years ago.
But the Finch resident didn’t see it coming when friends, family, patients and colleagues surprised her with a retirement party in the neighbouring boardroom at North Stormont Place yesterday afternoon (April 1).
MP Guy Lauzon was on hand to deliver scrolls on behalf of the federal and provincial governments (the latter in place of MPP Jim McDonell, still recovering from hip surgery). North Stormont Mayor Jim Wert and Councillor Steve Densham also offered words of thanks to a teary-eyed Logtens.
Below, the proceedings at the surprise retirement party.
“It really is a privilege and an honour for me to be here,” said Lauzon, describing the moment as a “very special” happening in the community.
Reading aloud his congratulatory text, Lauzon emphasized the recipient’s term of “dedicated service” to local doctors, drawing out the words “forty-seven years” as two dozen people in the community centre boardroom laughed.
“I’ll bet you trained a few of them,” quipped the MP to Logtens, referring to the physicians that have employed her over the decades.
“I just wanted to thank you on behalf of our family,” said Councillor Densham. “Forty-seven years isn’t a job, it’s a career. And the difference between a job and a career is the amount of passion you put into it, and you’re here because you want to be. And we feel that every time we walk into the office.”
“Dr. Racine’s been giving me a lot of attention about my weight,” joked Mayor Wert, acknowledging the latest doctor to head the office where Logtens has presided. “And I’ve been highly suspicious that Gloria’s had her foot on the scales all these years,” the mayor added.
“I don’t think she’s actually retiring, she’s probably just refocusing,” said Wert. “We’re all aware of what a commitment she makes to the things she partakes in and so many people benefit from, her involvement and her investment of her many talents.”
Erin Hopkins thanked the honouree for all her “hard work and dedication” and the care shown to both herself as a patient in childhood and, more recently, her own infant son.
“I know growing up, coming into the doctor’s office is not always a fun thing to do, especially when it was needle time, but I definitely appreciate how caring you were,” said Hopkins as 16-month-old Logan squirmed in her arms. “We appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
Logtens’ granddaughter attached an “officially retired” badge on her blouse — reenacting the day nearly five decades ago when she earned her ‘RN.’ “Thank you, grandma,” said Jessica Rutley, after chronicling the recipient’s support for her family.
The retiree told the group the honourifics were “very unexpected.”
“I want to thank you all very much. It’s been a wonderful career,” said Logtens, growing more emotional as she spoke. “I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss being here, but I’ve loved what I’ve done, so hopefully I’ll still see you all!”
Logtens will continue to run her Finch gift shop, Treats and Treasures, four days a week. She had otherwise worked the other three days at Dr. Racine’s office, for a whopping seven-day-week schedule.
She and her sister head out Thursday on a Mediterranean cruise, easing Logtens into a reduced retirement schedule.
Dr. Racine — who also wrote a congratulatory letter to the honouree — is the last of three physicians the grandmother of five has served through the decades at the office that originated in Finch. Her tenure also coincided with that of Dr. Gabriel Slowey and then Dr. Don McMillan before Dr. Racine took over 21 years ago. The office moved to Avonmore earlier this century with the construction of North Stormont Place.
In addition to medical matters that are the bailiwick of a nurse — from handling patients’ diabetic checks to countless baby immunizations (4,000 in the last decade alone) — the entrepreneurial Logtens also functioned as the office’s “part-time accountant and business manager,” she said, smiling. “And anything else they threw your way.”
She graduated from nursing school at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, in a time when nurses got most of their education inside a hospitals. “Back when they had three years [of training],” she added. But it was a system that allowed for more practical experience, according to Logtens. “We had maybe six months of schooling and then hands-on, on the floor … from making beds to anything else.”
It was also a time when nurses wore caps and skirts. “I still have mine,” she exclaimed, confirming the era, adding, “We wore bibs and aprons.”
The uniform, she also noted, included black shoes and black nylons. “You wore those for the first two years, and in the third year, you got white, so that distinguished between the beginning students and those about to graduate,” she recalled. “It was like, ‘I think I’m a nun, not a nurse,'” she quipped, remembering her surprise upon learning of the nylons-and-shoe-colour rule.
“Your third year, you spent all your time working on the floor. This is how you paid back the hospital for training you. You got all the nights and all the weekends, and all the holidays.”
Newly pinned with her ‘RN,’ she worked a stint at the Cornwall General hospital before eventually settling into her current position. While the move to a private doctor’s office didn’t come with the pay of a unionized hospital nurse, the trade-off was greater flexibility, she said. “My kids were little, and we were on the farm. The hours were better,” she explained.
After her cruise, she looks forward to a more relaxing summer in 2019. “I’m going to enjoy having some days off to enjoy doing those things I want to do, like painting,” she said, “Nothing too exciting.”