Shirley Gardner on her 23rd birthday during her nursing training at the St. Giles Hospital at King’s College Group in London England.
After a long nursing career that spans more than 51 years, Shirley Gardner, a Registered Nurse, retired from the Kensington Eye Institute in June.
Shirley completed her nursing training at the St. Giles Hospital at King’s College Group in London England, and then studied midwifery at Kingston General Hospital. She then took a position at the Toronto Western Hospital (TWH). She went on to do her post graduate operating room course at St. Michael’s Hospital Toronto. Subsequently she returned to TWH, where she worked in many areas of the operating room and eventually oversaw the day surgery unit. Ophthalmology became her specialty.
Shirley started at the Kensington Eye Institute in 2005, before the clinic opened its doors to patients. She assisted Donna Punch in preparation for the opening. Although the number of patients at Kensington has grown exponentially and many things have changed over the years, Shirley says one thing has remained the same:
“Everybody always pulls together and is always willing to give each other a helping hand. The deep caring for our patients could be seen daily, and I looked forward to going in for my shifts every day. If I wasn’t the age that I am, I would still be there.”
Shirley’s fondest memories are from her time in Britain, training as a young nurse. The training that she received overseas gave her the strong foundation that has helped her during her entire career.
“We worked very hard, often had over 30 patients on the floors and it was very demanding, we often never sat down.”
Shirley remembers the community’s love and respect for nurses.
“You would be walking along the street, and people would say, ‘good morning nurse, allow me nurse,’ and opened doors for you. People really respected their nurses.”
Shirley (middle) and her close friends, Eira (left) and Katie(right). She welcomed them at the airport with this sign when they flew in from Australia.
During nursing school, Shirley met some lifelong friends. She looks forward to seeing more of her friends and doing some travelling when she gets the chance to – particularly to visit her two dear friends who moved to Australia.
“We refer to ourselves as the most valuable antiques,” she said laughing.
She leaves us with these parting words:
“KEI has been an amazing place to work. I came on staff just before KEI opened the doors to patients and I have enjoyed every moment. From the management team, to the staff at the front desk, nurses, doctors and all the wonderful support staff, it has been a privilege to have worked with everyone. I will miss you all.”
We will miss you too, Shirley!