Women of the Ross

Shining a spotlight on six women at Ross Memorial Hospital

By Denise Waldron

Divya Sebastian, physiotherapist at Ross Memorial Hospital. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay was established in November 1902. The hospital’s nursing team was comprised of a female superintendent, a head nurse, and four female nurses undergoing training. Today, the hospital boasts 947 active employees, with women representing 88 per cent of the workforce, alongside 125 volunteers, of whom 100 are women. Of the active physicians, 37 per cent are female.

The women of the Ross bring diverse skills, perspectives, and contributions to the hospital enriching the healthcare environment and positively impacting patient care, and overall hospital operations. On International Women’s Month, we shine a spotlight on six women, all from various positions within the hospital.

Divya Sebastian — physiotherapist

Some people change careers many times, but for Divya Sebastian, she knew by Grade 12 that she wanted to be a physiotherapist.

She has worked as a physiotherapist on the medical floor and the ICU for nearly five years at RMH.

On medical floors, Sebastian works with acute patients with strokes, brain injuries, pneumonia etc. needing short hospital stays. On surgical floors, she works with planned surgeries like joint replacements requiring post-op rehab. In ICU, patients are more critical, requiring ventilation, etc.

One of the Lindsay physiotherapist’s joys is seeing a patient in the ICU and then in rehab. “The patient went from basically on a ventilator to walking back home.”

Sebastian says she loves her job as she’s a people person and having the opportunity to improve the quality of life is gratifying as well.

Dr. Sara-Lynn Francis. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Dr. Sara-Lynn Francis — palliative physician and hospitalist

Dr. Sara-Lynn Francis has been at RMH for nine years and highlights the intellectual challenge, collaborative teamwork, work-life balance, and human connections as appealing factors that drew her to her specialties.

As a hospitalist, Dr. Francis is part of a team that cares for inpatients who are not in intensive care, surgery or labour.

The physician shares that palliative care is a passion of hers. “I really value the connections and relationships and the ability to try to make a very hard situation as comforting and hopeful as it can be.”

Dr. Francis praises the collaborative, mutually supportive culture amongst all staff at Ross Memorial Hospital, from doctors to housekeepers, which makes it a positive workplace during ups and downs. “Everybody sort of pulls together to try to make things work.”

Dr. Francis, together with her husband Dr. Michael Francis, who is also a hospitalist at the Ross, live in the Lindsay area with their children. They have an appreciation for the outdoors, including sailing and skiing.

Richelle Moore. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Richelle Moore — CPA/CGA

Richelle Moore oversees the finance department at Ross Memorial Hospital, including budget preparation, financial reporting, ministry reporting, and supporting other departments. Her role also involves extensive statistics and analysis.

Moore has worked as part of the hospital finance department for four years. She enjoys working with her team and they spend personal time together as well, going for walks and hanging out as a group. “There is some fun in there as well,” said Moore.

She notes, accounting is very complex and unique compared to other industries. As a self-professed numbers lover, Moore says the role is challenging but also rewarding by enabling hospital operations. “I come from a public accounting background, but hospital accounting is its own thing.”

Moore grew up on a Lindsay dairy farm. When she is not thinking about numbers, she tends a vegetable garden and enjoys propagating plants from seeds.

Cindy Bailey. Photo: Sienna Frost.

Cindy Bailey — environmental support services

Cindy Bailey has worked at Ross Memorial Hospital for 20 years, currently in the support services department. Her role involves responding to calls and requests, handling certain cleaning tasks, filling gaps, and generally serving as a go-to person for operational needs.

She also has other tasks such as moving furniture, managing the lost and found, and linen delivery.

Bailey says her role is usually thought of as male dominated. She said women like herself show true grit in doing the job, especially to “actually prove other people wrong.”

She finds the work physically demanding and enjoys helping people and keeping things running smoothly. Her passion is dancing and she can be found on occasion in an elevator busting a move while cleaning. “I’ve had the occasional visitor actually get on there and start dancing with me.”

Pat Presley — volunteer

While Pat Presley shares a last name with a famous entertainer, she chuckles that she does not share his singing talent or money. But what she does have is more important — the skill and time to volunteer at Ross Memorial.

Seeking more purpose after she retired, Presley began volunteering at the hospital doing a mix of hands-on work and admin tasks.

Skills honed during her previous careers enabled Presley to overhaul the hospital volunteer management system into a database, including tracking volunteer hours and information.

Presley, who lives near Rosedale, enjoys the social outlet and community connection from volunteering at the hospital. She also serves her local legion and helps with the Lindsay Fair and is the chair of the Santa Day Committee in Fenelon Falls.

Pat Presley and Jona De La Austria. Photos: Sienna Frost.

Jona De La Austria — RPN

Nurse Jona De La Austria lives in Lindsay, via the Philippines. A recent Canadian citizen who works in the rehab department of Ross Memorial, she came to Canada five years ago and found her first winter difficult. “I thought I’d have to go home — but I’m still here.”

Despite her first chilly, snowy winter, De La Austria loves her job, the community, and enjoys working with physiotherapists and occupational therapists on the rehab team.

The most satisfying part of her job is helping rehab patients regain mobility to return home.

At the Ross for a year, the mom of two teens enjoys biking, walking, playing guitar, singing karaoke, and being part of the local Filipino community.

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