Hos­pi­tal main­te­nance man calls it a day

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ERIN TASKER

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.

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