Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bill's place at Community

Bill Hopkins retired yesterday after nearly 28 years at Community General Hospital. You may not know him, but if you work at Community, you will likely recognize Bill as a mainstay of the Food Service Department. That's him, at right, in a photo taken with me yesterday in the hospital cafeteria.

Bill lives at Nob Hill apartments, and he has walked the 2.5 miles between Nob Hill and Community Hospital, going to work and returning from work every day -- including yesterday, his last day on the job.

Bill would begin his hike about 5 a.m., walking down Seneca Turnpike to the Valley, then up the long grade to Onondaga Hill. He did this in fair weather and foul, and he did it without interruption until "Monday, December 4, 2006."

That was when Bill was struck by a car shortly after he began the walk. He had a leg fracture, among other injuries. Until that day, Bill had never missed a day at the hospital.

Bill had surgery on "Thursday, December 7, 2006," and he spent time convalescing in Mercy Rehabilitation Center, Auburn, NY, where he was admitted on "Tuesday, December 12, 2006." When he left Mercy on "Wednesday, March 14, 2007," Bill continued to rehab at Community’s outpatient physical therapy service on Velasko Road until "Monday, April 23, 2007."

On "Tuesday, April 24, 2007," Bill learned his leg was again broken. He underwent a second surgery on "May 18, 2007."

Bill Hopkins eventually returned to work on a part-time basis on “Tuesday, November 20, 2007.” He resumed full-time work exactly one year ago, on “Tuesday, January 1, 2008.”

I have used quotation marks for all the dates to respect the precision of Bill’s memory. He is gifted at remembering numbers and dates and the facts associated with them.

Years ago Bill asked me when I began working at Community. When I told him November 5, 1973, he promptly informed me that was a Monday, that there was intermittent rain that day, and that Watergate and Vietnam were in the news.

I asked Bill to what he attributes his talent with numbers and facts. “It’s a gift from God,” Bill said. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Nearing retirement, Bill recently told me he was reluctant to stop working although he conceded, “It’s time.”

When he was on medical leave in 2007, Bill was concerned that that his otherwise perfect record of attendance had somehow been marred. He often asked Pauline Warboy, his manager, and me if there would always be a place for him at the hospital.

The answer is: "Yes, Bill, there is always a place for you at Community."

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