Work is in his blood

‘I’ve never worked away and I’ve never been un­em­ployed’


Robert Cou­ture con­sid­ers him­self to be a pretty lucky Cape Bre­toner.

“I’ve never worked away and I’ve never been un­em­ployed,” says the Syd­ney res­i­dent who just re­tired June 30 from his for­mer po­si­tion as traf­fic man­ager and qual­ity con­trol tech­ni­cian in the blood col­lec­tions depart­ment at the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal. He made sure ev­ery­one was in the right place at the right time and re­ceiv­ing the proper re­quested tests.

“My job was to make sure I knew where ev­ery­one was at.”

He’s only 55 but he has spent the last 40 years work­ing in hos­pi­tals within the lo­cal area.

“Way back when I started, I was a 15-year-old kid in the kitchen, July 7, 1975, wash­ing pots af­ter school and on week­ends,” said Cou­ture, re­lax­ing on his front step re­cently. “I started as a 15-year-old kid on a sum­mer job.”

When he fin­ished school in 1977, he be­gan work­ing full-time in the house­keep­ing depart­ment. Later that year, he be­gan train­ing as a nurs­ing or­derly and did that un­til that type of po­si­tion was phased out of the hos­pi­tal sys­tem.

“I just ended up work­ing in the lab,” he said. ”I went to work one day, and they said the next day, you’re go­ing to the lab. And they trained me there on the job.

“To­day you’ve got to have pa- pers but back then, you did what was asked. It didn’t mat­ter what the duty was, you just did it.”

Cou­ture joins his wife Flora who re­tired in Jan­uary af­ter 37 years as a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse.

So far, Cou­ture has no big plans for his re­tire­ment years but af­ter a life­time of meet­ing with as many as 300 peo­ple daily, no one should be sur­prised he hasn’t quite left the work­ing world just yet.

“I’m only 55,” he says, “I’m not a home­body — I like to be busy.”

He’s now work­ing sev­eral morn­ings each week at the North­side Gen­eral, do­ing blood work. “I couldn’t ( just stop) — it’s not in my DNA,” he said. “This half-day thing is per­fect — a cou­ple of morn­ings — it gets me out of the house, it gives me a rea­son to get up.”

He misses the many peo­ple he met with on a daily ba­sis.

“I do. I saw 300 peo­ple a day for a good num­ber of years. Peo­ple you see ev­ery week, you get to know them and they get to know you.

“I re­ally did (en­joy the work).”


Af­ter 40 years work­ing in Cape Bre­ton’s hos­pi­tal sys­tem, Robert Cou­ture is ready to spend more qual­ity time with his fam­ily, in­clud­ing pet golden re­triever Jesse, who couldn’t be hap­pier.

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