By Tom Relihan, The Enterprise Posted Apr 24, 2018 at 5:47 PM Updated Apr 24, 2018 at 10:40 PM
The hospital will celebrate its 50th anniversary next Thursday, April 26, with the private unveiling of a large illuminated sign in the main lobby detailing the medical center’s half-century of history since its opening as the Cardinal Cushing Hospital, according to spokeswoman Nicki Draves. The facility was renamed Good Samaritan Medical Center in 1994 when it merged with the Goddard Memorial Hospital and was purchased by Caritas Health Care, Draves said. The hospital was purchased by current owner Steward Health Care, the nation’s largest privately-owned health care system, in November 2010
Christine Gainey trudged through the knee-deep snow, making her way slowly from her house on Belmont Street in Brockton to Good Samaritan Medical Center. It was the blizzard of 1978, and it was clear no one was driving to work that day.
But the patients needed her and her fellow microbiology lab workers, and nothing was going to stop her from getting to work. That was 40 years ago, and Gainey still runs tests crucial to the hospital’s ability to provide effective medical care. That drive to put the patients’ well-being first is ingrained in the hospital’s culture, she said, and it’s what has kept her there since it opened in 1968.
The hospital will continue its year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary Thursday with the private unveiling of a large illuminated sign in the main lobby detailing the medical center’s half-century of history since its opening as the Cardinal Cushing Hospital, according to spokeswoman Nicki Draves.
The facility was renamed Good Samaritan Medical Center in 1994 when it merged with the Goddard Memorial Hospital and was purchased by Caritas Health Care, Draves said. The hospital was purchased by current owner Steward Health Care, the nation’s largest privately owned health care system, in November 2010.
Gainey started working at the hospital while she was attending Brockton High School. Starting as a “candy-striper,” teenage girls who perform volunteer nursing work in hospitals, her interest in microbiology and lab work, instilled by her visits to medical labs on the Air Force bases where she lived as a child, quickly led to her hiring as a lab technician.
“I was amazed at a young age with all the equipment and Erlenmeyer flasks and bubbling colors,” she said. “So I knew right off the bat that that’s what I wanted to do, from about the age of 8.”
Soon, she was attending the University of Massachusetts-Amherst during the week and traveling back to Brockton by bus on weekends to work, performing EKGs and blood tests, and then sleeping on a couch in the library of Goddard Memorial Hospital in Stoughton while on call for the emergency room.
Now, a half-century later, Gainey said the lab itself and the work she performs there are much different.
Technology has ushered in a new era of automation and accuracy, and she and colleagues spend more time analyzing the results to pinpoint the prescription or medical procedure a patient will need than performing manual testing.
“It’s like night and day,” Gainey said. “Back in the day, you’d pull out a book, combine reagents and look for color changes. You’d report that out manually on a little slip of paper and it would go on the doors on the floor. Someone would come around and collect them all later.”
Today, computers and instrumentation make the tests and reporting the results much faster, she said. “Slowly but surely, technology and instrumentation began to come in.”
All the while, Gainey and her colleagues have put community first, going the extra mile for the patient.
“I see it with staffing. We’ve had a lot of people out on medical leave, and you can’t just have anyone step into the job,” Gainey said. So, on weekends and holidays, it’s not uncommon for a colleague to step up and take someone’s shift without being asked.
Lab workers have also been known to donate their own paid time off to colleagues who become so sick that they have to use all theirs before they are better.
“People have stepped up to the plate,” she said. “We know the patient comes first, and people do it. It’s that kind of thing that I think is really nice.”
Other times, she’ll see employees guiding confused patients or visitors around the sprawling building.
“This hospital is part of their community, and we really can’t get by with just one hospital. If this place were to close, (Signature Healthcare) Brockton (Hospital) couldn’t handle everything alone. People want the hospital to succeed.”
Harrison Bane, the hospital’s CEO and president, said the medical center has managed to evolve with a changing health care landscape while retaining its Catholic roots and connection to the community.
Bane previously served as the hospital’s vice president before leaving for a two-year hiatus, returning in January as the chief executive.
In the last decade, the hospital has been accredited as the only Level 3 trauma center in the state’s Emergency Medical Region 5, which is comprised of the South Shore and parts of Cape Cod, opened a state-of-the-art emergency room and has been recognized with an accreditation of its orthopedic services by the Joint Commission, a national health care accreditation group, Bane said.
“We’ve been able to maintain a sense of who we are, as a community where our physicians and staff members live and work, but also to change with the health care landscape, which continues to rapidly evolve, using technology, data and advanced sciences to meet those changing needs,” Bane said. “We’ve done that by investing dollars, services and clinical expertise.”
Despite holding fast to its Catholic roots, Bane said the hospital has also evolved to serve patients from a variety of religious backgrounds.
“Fifty years ago, there was a vision of a new hospital to serve Brockton that caught the eye of the Archdiocese (of Boston) because of the shortage of beds,” Bane said. “Over the last few decades, what’s remained at the core of who we are is delivering services and excellent patient care in a way that continues to evolve with the times, as offering consist comfort and solace, rooted in our Catholic tradition, but serving a wide variety of faiths.”