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Harrow on the Hill
Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeHealthHarrow resident becomes Northwick Park's longest serving member of staff

Harrow resident becomes Northwick Park’s longest serving member of staff

The most senior employee at Northwick Park Hospital continues to work diligently at her post as she nears her 80th birthday.

Justa Garcia, 79, recently celebrated her 50th work anniversary as a healthcare assistant.

The mother of one who lives in Harrow began working at the hospital in 1973 as an orderly.

“I wasn’t expecting to stay more than couple of months but here I am.” It was the same year that Edward Health was PM, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon and Roger Moore made his first appearance as 007 in Live and Let Die.

Justa works two-days-a-week in the Theatre Admission Unit providing a reassuring presence as she helps prep patients before surgery.

“I work with a nice team which makes all the difference. I was thinking about retirement again the other day but no-one wants me to go!”

Of course, things were different back in the day when doctors were required to wear white coats and ties and woe betide any errant junior who forgot.

Nurses wore blue dresses with paper hats while sisters graduated to stiff cloth-ironed caps. There was no A&E department and many of the outlying buildings remained temporarily empty and were used for filming.

Justa was among the staff who rushed down to catch a glimpse of Hollywood star Gregory Peck who was starring in The Omen.

Harrow resident becomes Northwick Park's longest serving member of staff Harrow Online

The 1976 chiller about the ‘coming of the Anti-Christ’ was filmed on the upper floors of the hospital and went on to win an Oscar.

“It was very different back then. People had a lot more respect for hospital staff and you had more time for your patients. I have a lot of happy memories and still working keeps me in my toes.”

Shereen Avillo Arenas, Manager of the Theatre Admission Unit, added: “Justa is a pleasure to work with. She is not just a colleague but more of a mother figure. She makes us work harder because you rarely see her sit down.

“She loves to keep herself busy and is a real inspiration to the team because we all hope we are that physically and mentally active when we are older.”

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