KD: What do you find to be changing in the hospital over the years?
AW: If you talk to people who’ve been around the hospital for a while, they say “there’s less laughter now.”
KD: Well, there are definitely fewer dogs. How was the hospital more fun before?
AW: Everyone was like family . . . nobody felt as though their titles made them better. Doctors, PCA’s, housekeepers, we were all friends. We even had strong bonds with patients. Sometimes I’d go to lunch and take it in a patient’s room. Everybody knew and helped everybody.
KD: Is the workload too heavy now?
AW: It’s always been a lot. I couldn’t have worked any harder back then. Some days I left work with chest pains. I don’t think it’s the workload.
KD: How much do you think it was because everybody knew everybody in the hospital?
AW: Well, yeah, that’s part of it. But PCA’s weren’t there forever. There were always new faces. We just all felt like we were part of a community that took care of each other. We knew each others’ kids and husbands. We vented. We supported each other. We had a lot of fun and took care of patients. Going to work was a pleasure.
KD: There’s nothing like working with good people. What do you think makes for a good supervisor?
AW: I think they’re somebody who’s got your back. I had great managers when I was working the nursing floors. If we got going too much, one boss would come out and ask, “What? Is there a comedy routine out here?” We knew she was for her workers. We respected her. If she was disappointed, that’s all it took to get us back on track.
KD: What’s your biggest disappointment as a SHARE rep?
AW: There’s one particular member, I couldn’t save her job. She was making so many mistakes and the manager wanted to get rid of her.
KD: Did you ever surprise yourself with your abilities?
AW: Before I came to SHARE, I never thought I’d represent anyone in a mediation. I'll never forget the first time I realized that I could help someone get her job back. I really knew what I was doing. I had developed relationships with everyone in the department. It was obvious that this woman’s manager was looking for a way to get rid of her, accusing her of mistakes, disciplining her for “seeming grumpy,” nitpicking things. When this woman was laid off, she had decades of seniority. I could see that coming before it happened. Knowing everyone and knowing the department so well made it even easier to point out all the information they were withholding from the mediator.
KD: That brings up a common complaint about unions: that they spend too much time and money protecting bad employees. How do you respond to that?
AW: I’ve made mistakes. I’ve seen employees termed for making almost the same mistakes. Making a mistake doesn't make you a bad person. It’s not good to make mistakes. But when you’re talking about errors, they have to be attached to the procedure, too. I want things to be fair. Employees need to know that they’re going to have a fair process. That’s the right thing. It shouldn’t seem like a courtroom when you’re talking about a mistake at work. Employees deserve to have someone help them through that.
KD: Chocolate Day is coming. Tell me about your strongest association with the word “Chocolate.”
AW: Right away I think of Cherry Bombs from Wholly Cannoli. They have to be from Wholly Cannoli.
KD: I love those things. They’re awesome. Thank you so much for everything, Alana. We’re really going to miss you.
AW: Thank you. I’m going to miss every single one of you so much.