Maricris Conchada and Maria O'Connell
Maricris Conchada, supervisor, food services (left) and Maria O'Connell, manager, food services (right)

#MGH Pay it Forward: Maria O'Connell and Maricris Conchada

The #MGHPayitForward series highlights the many moments of thanks within our community. Whether it is for feedback, teamwork, or a small gesture of kindness, gratitude is everywhere. We follow the flow of gratitude at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), Toronto East Health Network as our community shares stories about their peers.

By Isabel Terrell

What is your instinct when someone is in need? For Maricris Conchada, food services supervisor, her instincts are the same both in and outside of her caretaker nature at MGH.

When Maricris saw Jane, 75, screaming in pain after falling in a grocery store parking lot, an act of kindness built a lifelong friend.

“She calls me her angel,” says Maricris of Jane, “but to me, she is my family.”

It was a cold afternoon in late March when Maricris was leaving the store with groceries to bring to her own 75-year-old mother. Jane had lost the grasp to her walker while walking back to her car.

Maricris saw two people attempting to help her up, but they seemed to be in a rush to leave the scene. That’s when Maricris stepped in to call an ambulance.

For the next 30 minutes, Maricris distracted Jane from her pain by asking questions and making her laugh. Before Jane got in the ambulance, they exchanged numbers to stay in touch. When Maricris called later that day to check on Jane, she learned that Jane was in the emergency department at MGH.

Maricris went on to visit her every day she worked until Jane was discharged three weeks later. Now they have a close bond outside of work, too.

Maria O’Connell, manager of food services, says that when Maricris told her about Jane, she downplayed the entire scenario. It wasn’t until weeks into Jane’s stay at MGH that the impact of Maricris’ actions were realized.

“This is such a monumental contribution that Maricris made to Jane’s life, that she wanted Maricris recognized. This is very much patient oriented recognition,” says Maria.

Maricris has worked in food services since 2001. She says that with the time-pressure to ensure the delivery of food to patients across the hospital three times a day, it can be hard to find the time to go the extra mile for patients. In her supervisor role, Maricris encourages a culture of making each patient feel special throughout her department.

I’m grateful to have somebody like Maricris on my team,” says Maria. “Her example is perfect living evidence that she embodies the spirit of our hospital values and implements them.”

Maria says that Maricris is constantly going out of her way to help both staff and patients get the support they need.

Maricris says her caring nature, and relationship with Jane, is a result of her own relationship with her own mother. Together, they share stories about their families, and they’re in the process of planning a fun dinner date altogether with their spouses.

Jane has a heart condition, and due to the shock from her fall, she says she could have died without Maricris’ help. A few weeks later, she opened up to Maricris and told her she couldn’t eat her favourite meal, sushi, anymore because revisiting the store reminds her of the painful spill. Maricris says that now, she usually brings sushi when she visits Jane’s home- one of many small gestures that makes Jane’s day every visit.

“What I do for Jane is what I would do for any other patient,” says Maricris. “If you can help, why not help.”

Do you have an MGH gratitude story to share? Contact @email or share your story using the hashtag #MGHPayitForward and tag @MGHToronto.

Related: #MGHPayitForward: Kristine Leggett and Eric Contreras

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