Angela retires as long-serving hospital cleaner

THRILL: Retired hospital worker Angela Brustolin is thrilled to have set a record for service as a cleaner after starting her impressive career in 1973.

THRILL: Retired hospital worker Angela Brustolin is thrilled to have set a record for service as a cleaner after starting her impressive career in 1973.

Angela Brustolin is happy with her "darned good achievement" - a record-breaking career as a hospital cleaner.

The pal of ABC radio presenter Peter Goers, Angela has many memories of the Port Pirie hospital since she began work there in 1973.

She was a full-time "domestic" among 53 other females, mostly single girls and women.

"I worked in the geriatric ward for six years," she said.

"The ward had wooden floorboards and it was hard to keep clean.

"We had to put a mixture of red-purple brew on the floor, mop it into the wood and, when dry, the floorboards were polished.

"We had big vintage polishers which had a mind of their own.

"It took a while to maneouvre them, but once you mastered control, it was good."

She recalls that across from the ward was G Ward 2 which was a similar building, but had an isolation area next to it.

"These two wards were the original buildings put up in the early 1900s," she said.

"Arthur Dawson was the chief executive officer, Miss Grey was the matron and Nancy Gebert was the housekeeper. The best housekeeper was Shirley Matthews.

"As domestics, we were expected to clean toilets, wash floors, serve meals and do the dishes - certainly multi-tasking at its best.

"The cleaning buckets were of metal and mop handles were wooden. I got a few splinters over the years.

"Our cleaning equipment through the years has improved.

DEDICATED: Angela Brustolin takes a well-earned rest during one of her shifts in the early days of her career.

DEDICATED: Angela Brustolin takes a well-earned rest during one of her shifts in the early days of her career.

"We worked on a rotating roster with six days on and two days off with a four-day break every six weeks and lots more security.

"This changed in the 1980s with staff working in separate cleaning or kitchen duties and being rostered five days on and two days off."

After the geriatric ward, Angela was based in the men's ward area for more than a decade.

Later, there was a time of change at the hospital as new buildings were created for the operating theatre, accident and emergency, specialist area, kiosk, industrial kitchen, staff dining room, and surgical-maternity ward.

"Lino floors were introduced to these areas then it went to carpet and back to lino," she said.

"I feel proud that I have worked there as a cleaner for 45 years and eight months - and was still a full-time worker."

- ANGELA BRUSTOLIN

"We had different machines for the lino and carpet. As years went by, the cleaning machines became bigger to use.

"There were lots of changes in uniforms. They became smarter and were not just for a cleaner of kitchen staff.

"The men or orderlies joined the group. Previously, they were older gentlemen who were very respectful.

"As they retired, they were replaced with young to middle-aged men and even the girls could be trained to be multi-skilled in their duties.

"Occupational health and safety laws were introduced, but they should have come in earlier.

"I have done night-shift cleaning, then afternoon shift for 12 years and back to day shift.

"I have seen in that time the biggest change in the number of staff when there was a decline in the cleaning areas.

"I feel proud that I have worked there as a cleaner for 45 years and eight months - and was still a full-time worker.

"It seems I have broken the record compared with the previous older past cleaners with only one full-time person left.

"It has been a darned good achievement. I am totally thrilled. In retirement, I will do some volunteer work and travel." Thousands of patients have benefitted from Angela's attention to detail as she diligently mopped and dusted - the town thanks her for many years well spent.

Angela is entitled to be proud of her long-standing service to health and the community.

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