Chief Laboratory Technologist, Royal Jubilee Hospital; lacrosse referee, food cart owner, community volunteer, grandfather, father, husband, son, human
Science was always my interest, so this career fit perfectly. I went to university but didn’t see much I really liked—then I found a brochure about lab technology, and my interest sparked. This was in 1986. I graduated as a lab tech in 1989 and was able to do my practicum here at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Wilson Block, which used to be the microbiology lab. Now, it’s the Victoria Hospitals Foundation office!
In those days, there were too many staff, so I had to take a casual lab tech position. Eventually, I was able to get a permanent position, and I went back and forth between Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals. My first step up in my career was when I became the unit coordinator at the Core Lab at VGH. Then, when the Chief Technologist position came up at RJH in 2007, I was fortunate to be awarded the position. I’ve been doing it for 16 years now, and it’s been a fabulous experience.
My role now is primarily administrative, and I act as a site supervisor. I check in with all the departments and see if there are any daily challenges and try to mitigate those issues.
For me, the meaningful part of my job is seeing young lab techs start their careers. Sometimes they’ll ask me to reflect back on my career and share what I went through back then. And, you know, we’ll sit here and chat. I enjoy seeing all the different levels. I enjoy mentoring department supervisors and watching them mentor others. What pleases me is that they view this as a profession and not just a job. Quality matters. Timeliness matters. They are really invested in what they do.
I really embrace change. With new equipment and technology, there’s so much more information or better information that we can give doctors to help them make their decisions. To me, if we can get lab results to an Emergency Department or operating room quickly, that’s a win. The doctors we work with in the labs are strong patient advocates as well. They always instill that reminder in us that we have to do this for the patients, and that is never forgotten.
“For me, the meaningful part of my job is seeing young lab techs start their careers. Sometimes they’ll ask me to reflect back on my career and share what I went through back then. I enjoy mentoring department supervisors and watching them mentor others. What pleases me is that they view this as a profession and not just a job. Quality matters. Timeliness matters. They are really invested in what they do.”
“Actually, there are people I hired during the pandemic whose faces I saw for the first time last week, because I had only ever known them with a mask on. I’d been working with them for two or three years now, but I wouldn’t be able to recognize them. We all laughed about that.”
One piece of advice that I was given by my supervisor at the time was, no matter who you work with and in whatever department, build your relationships with those people, because those are the people who will be there when you need it.
COVID-19 really challenged and changed us. It was scary because there wasn’t a lot of information. We didn’t know how it affected people or how it spread. People were coming to work crying and leaving crying because they didn’t want to bring it home to their kids. At 2:30 p.m. every day, everyone would be glued to their device or computer listening to the next announcement. When we got our first case in Victoria, our hearts sank. The news was grim, especially in the U.S., and we all thought, what’s going to happen to us? What’s going to be our role in this? Are we going to lose staff members? Are we going to lose friends and family?
But you know, healthcare workers are so dedicated. They showed up for work every day. In fact, our absenteeism in the lab dropped during that period. Everyone made a point of coming to work because there was a calling, and everyone wanted to support each other.
We were dealing with the unknown. A lab tech would have to go down to the Emergency Department and collect blood from someone who was coughing and had a fever. They were scared, but they still did it. We also never stopped recruiting. We still had people come to Victoria and hired new team members, and there were still people who were interested in getting into healthcare. The fact that there were people just finishing their educations and coming to us in the midst of all that was fabulous.
Actually, there are people I hired during the pandemic whose faces I saw for the first time last week, because I had only ever known them with a mask on. I’d been working with them for two or three years now, but I wouldn’t be able to recognize them. We all laughed about that.
I’m one of a few people from Victoria who’s still here. I went to Reynolds High School and grew up in the Quadra/McKenzie area. My grandmother was born in Centennial Square—that’s where their family home was. My family is truly from Victoria.
I’m a lacrosse referee. In fact, I was the Head Referee for B.C. until last October. So, I’ve spent a lot of time doing that and mentoring young kids. But I’m starting to get back into fishing more as my lacrosse career is coming to an end now that I’m getting older. I’m actually going to launch my boat at the marina this weekend. I’ll fish for prawns for the first little while, and then switch over to salmon.
My wife and I also have a food cart that we run through the summer and take to all the festivals in town. We love it and have a huge passion for it. We sell lángos, which is a kind of fried bread, and tornado potatoes, which are potatoes you cut into a spiral, put onto a skewer, and deep fry.
I’m also one of the directors of the Chinese temple in Chinatown. My grandfather was one of the original people who started it. I do a lot of volunteer work, and our temple hosts a picnic every year for the elderly Chinese community. We go to Gorge Park and do a big pig roast. We only charge $3, and we do this huge spread and feed 200 people. This is just our part of giving back.
I don’t sit around much, and in-between all of those things I’m babysitting. We have our grandson, who was born in 2019, and now a granddaughter, who just turned a year old. My son is a police officer with Saanich PD, and my daughter-in-law is a nurse here in the Coronary Care Unit at the Jubilee.
For me, being human is where you fit in the bigger picture. For me, I look at myself within my family. I’m both a dad and a son, a cousin, and an uncle. As humans, we’re fortunate that we can extend ourselves that way. FaceTime is fabulous. My grandson calls me almost every night and we just joke around. He tells me how his day was. So, for me, being human is my relationships with my family, and helping out in a broader sense of the community and our roles in supporting each other.
“For me, being human is where you fit in the bigger picture. For me, I look at myself within my family. I’m both a dad and a son, a cousin, and an uncle. As humans, we’re fortunate that we can extend ourselves that way.”
They are humans first, who put other humans first.
More than 7,900 caregivers and staff work around the clock at Royal Jubilee, Victoria General, and Gorge Road hospitals.
#HumansFirst is dedicated to sharing the stories from behind our hospitals’ frontlines. These stories remind us that those who provide care and keep the lights on in our hospitals also have lives outside of them. They have family and friends, they enjoy hobbies and interests, and they have all lived through their own personal triumphs and heartbreaks. Like all of us, they are human, and they have a story to tell.