Over 20 years of service and friendship: Paying tribute to the heroes of Westmead Hospital

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Verka Stojanovska and Gildalena Esmundo met in the corridors of Westmead Hospital in October 1993, during their orientation session as new staff at the hospital.

Now, some 29 years later, the two registered nurses have been reunited once more to share this huge milestone along with other longstanding staff members of Westmead Hospital.

There was a bit of debate about the last time Verka and Gilda saw each other – apart from randomly in the lift at the hospital – with it seeming likely to have been at “one of these celebrations for either 15 or 20 years’ service”, Gilda mused.

The events centre was full of staff swapping stories about their tenures on Tuesday, as Westmead Hospital staff marking 20 or more years of service were commended with a certificate, photograph, cupcakes, gold pen and badge.

Whether it was witnessing the Millennium Bug and the Sydney Olympics, to more recent developments like COVID-19 and, on a more local level, the opening of new wings of the hospital like K-Block, colleagues were able to take a moment to reflect on their impressive careers as the heart and soul of the hospital.

“It’s gone too fast!” Verka said.

Celebrating these huge milestones is particularly important after the difficult past few years with COVID-19, according to General Manager at Westmead Hospital, Jenelle Matic.

Staff with General Manager at Westmead Hospital, Jenelle Matic

“The happiness and pride that people are feeling for their commitment has been a special moment at these ceremonies,” Jenelle said.

“The highlight has been connecting with staff in person and having an opportunity to recognise their dedication to supporting patients and families at Westmead Hospital.”.

“One nursing staff member had started in 1979 – the year after the hospital opened, that’s incredible; 42 years of continuous service at Westmead.”

Deputy General Manager at Westmead Hospital, Deanna Aplitt

After so long spent at Westmead Hospital, Verka and Gilda are looking forward to the next 29 years.

“My favourite thing about working here is the diversity. You meet a lot of people and at the end of day, you feel great for doing your part and contributing,” Gilda said.