“I have seen so many changes,” says Gail Oliver, a medical team assistant at St. John’s Home, who began working here 32 and a half years ago in the former on-site pharmacy.
“I loved pharmacy,” says Gail. Originally coming to St. John’s to reduce her 63 mile-a-day commute and continue doing what she loved (she came from the pharmacy department at a Rochester-based Wegmans store), Gail has remained dedicated to St. John’s despite all the changes she has witnessed, which included the closure of the pharmacy in 2013.
Right about the time that the pharmacy closed, a family health scare kept Gail out of work for nearly eight months. However, when she was ready to come back, St. John’s welcomed her with open arms. “I said, ‘OK, St. John’s, what do you have for me,'” recalls Gail.
In the years following, Gail has benefitted from being flexible and versatile. She has worked in a multitude of capacities including doing medical transport for residents; assisting with filling the Omni machines brought in by Buffalo Pharmacy (the contracted provider that backfilled St. John’s Home’s pharmacy needs); serving as a beautician (because Gail is also a licensed cosmetologist) in the beauty shop; and scheduling specialty provider appointments as an assistant for the medical department.
There were times when Gail was working three different jobs in one day and about 53 hours a week. “People would ask me ‘what hat are you wearing today,'” laughs Gail, referencing the crazy schedule she was keeping at that time.
According to Gail, what has remained constant through all the roles she has held and departments in which she has worked, is the way colleagues support each other–even in small teams. “We worked so close together. We would help each other, no matter what,” says Gail.
Perhaps the tone was set for Gail in her very first week at St. John’s all those years ago. She recalls a fond memory of a former colleague named John, who she met in the elevator while running some medications up to one of the resident floors. Gail says that John startled her at first with how friendly he was, but looking back, her interaction with John is one of her fondest memories. “John said ‘Welcome. You will like it here. It’s a friendly place,'” says Gail. “Thirty-two years and I still haven’t forgot it.”
Opportunities for advancement and learning new things have kept Gail committed to St. John’s, but also engaged and motivated. According to Gail, colleagues often say that she needs to learn the word ‘no’ because she is always willing to do anything that is asked of her. However, for Gail, all of these experiences have led to professional growth and forward momentum.
Gail includes these same sentiments in words of wisdom she offers to new employees of St. John’s. “Just pay attention and be a sponge. Learn everything you can. The opportunities will come.”
It also may be Gail’s innate desire to help people that drives her connection to St. John’s and strong work ethic. Not only is Gail the member of her family that everyone relies on to be the caretaker, she seeks volunteer opportunities at St. John’s to assist with resident care. Gail signed up to be a volunteer feeder during the pandemic for residents needing assistance at meal times. She also took advantage of CPR classes offered to staff members. “Just in case, I am ready,” says Gail.
And, after more than three decades of service, Gail’s commitment to her work and to St. John’s remains strong. When asked if she ever considers working somewhere else, Gail says “I can’t. It’s home.”