Hospital maintenance man calls it a day
Bruce Hill has spent 42 years climbing through ceilings, crawling under floors and racking up countless kilometres on his bike, racing from one side of Ashburton Hospital to the other when a call for help comes in.
Hill’s working life has been devoted to the wellbeing of the thousands of patients who have come through the doors of Ashburton Hospital, but he’s not a doctor, or a nurse.
He’s a maintenance man; a man who has ensured that those doctors and nurses have been able to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
It’s a job he loved right to the end. After 42 years and a couple of recent health scares, Hill has called it a day, and jumped headfirst into what’s set to be a busy retirement full of music and family.
But it was an odd feeling, walking out the hospital’s doors for the final time.
‘‘You always say it will be nice when you retire, but when you get there, it’s strange,’’ Hill said.
There wouldn’t be many nooks or crannys at Ashburton Hospital where Hill hasn’t been over the years and he’ll miss it. For him, it was about more than just making a dollar.
‘‘You’re there for the patients. Everything you did was to benefit the patients, and making them feel comfortable,’’ he said.
‘‘I still love the job. The only part I didn’t like was crawling under floors and into tight spaces – that’s not so easy any more.’’
From day one, he used his bike to get from one department to another, catching little problems before they became big problems.
He started at Ashburton Hospital on April 1, 1975. A fitter and turner by trade, he saw the job as a chance to experience working with steam, which the hospital used for things like heating, making hot water and sterilising equipment.
‘‘They told me it was an old man’s job, but it really wasn’t,’’ Hill said.
What was once a team of 12 became a team of five. Hill said the workload changed when the hospital’s laundry – which was being built when he first started working at the hospital – was damaged by fire a few years ago, and never reopened.
But it was always a job with variety, and he’ll miss being part of a good, strong team dedicated to helping people in their time of need.
Bruce Hill has retired after 42 years as the maintenance man at Ashburton Hospital.