First horticulturalist on staff is also first woman to join JGH Maintenance team
Hudson-Simone Lacharité is a ground-breaker in many ways.
For starters, she has become the first horticulturalist to join the staff at the Jewish General Hospital. Hired by the Maintenance Department in December, 2019, she became the first woman in a non-administrative role to join the all-male team.
And this year, she broke new ground again—literally. With the support of her Maintenance colleagues, Ms. Lacharité designed and planted flower bed arrangements at the main entrance that pay tribute to healthcare staff and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s the Maintenance Department’s way of expressing gratitude.
“I feel a lot of people made sacrifices, and we will never be able to say thank you enough,” she says. “I want them to know that they’re appreciated. With teamwork, we can get through anything.”
Ms. Lacharité worked with her colleagues Miguel Duarte Miranda and Rifcky Munkareous to plant the displays in May. Each of the four flower-bed quadrants bears a message promoting values of health, life, teamwork and appreciation, says Stephan Simioni, JGH Chief of Maintenance.
“We wanted to thank all of the essential workers who have helped during the pandemic and who continue to contribute,” Mr. Simioni says. “You are the heroes. You’ve helped in the fight to save lives.”
One quadrant features a heart with a lifeline through it, showing the commitment to maintaining patients’ health; a second, “helping hands,” represents how teamwork helped everyone get through the pandemic together. The remaining two say “Thank You Health Heroes,” one in English and one in French; the messages will become more visible as the plants fill out during the summer.
Ms. Lacharité, 27, says she’s gratified by her work. While outside contractors and Maintenance workers cared for the grounds and flower beds in years past, Ms. Lacharité is the first specialist on staff to take on the responsibility; she’s a graduate of the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe.
Her tasks involve everything from planting annuals and perennials to pulling weeds, trimming hedges and fertilizing the vegetation. In winter, she contributes to general groundskeeping and starts ordering plants and planning flower beds for the following season.
In her view, the outdoor grounds of the JGH mirror the importance of what takes place within the hospital walls.
“The exterior grounds reflect the care we put into the patient. That’s my vision,” she says. She always keeps in mind that the JGH is one of the top-rated hospitals in the country. “What’s outside represents what’s on the inside, and what we’re capable of.”
Mr. Simioni says Ms. Lacharité has impressed him with her strong work ethic and dedication to her job. And he always knows when she’s been around. “Wherever she walks, she leaves a trail of dirt from under her boots,” he says. “To me, it’s a sign that she’s into her work. She’s always ready to give 100 per cent.”