Liuba Vulic: 46 years at Northern Health
Liuba still remembers the day she started working at Greenvale Geriatric Centre – March 21, 1973. Once Greenvale closed, she got relocated to Broadmeadows Hospital and has been there ever since.
Liuba has always enjoyed her role as a Personal Services Assistant, and never misses an opportunity to help patients feel better, whether it be through a kind word, a warm smile or lending a helping hand.
Looking after patients and families in palliative care was the favourite part of her career.
“I used to see families in distress, anticipating to part from their dearest. I’ve always looked for ways to help them and make those emotional moments a bit less painful, and to find ways to give comfort,” she said.
During the years, palliative care moved from Broadmeadows Hospital to Bundoora Centre, and Liuba found herself sad to see them leave after 20 years. Some of those families used to recognise her on the street and thank her for taking care of them. She then realised how much those small, everyday things and simple acts of kindness mean to patients.
“I always think – how would I feel if someone I love is in hospital now, and what would I need to feel better in that situation. That is how I treated the patients and their families,” she said.
Even though she doesn’t see palliative care patients any longer, she looks after current Broadmeadows Hospital patients with the same empathy.
“I get into wards early and wish everyone a good morning. I give patients a glass of fresh water and tell them breakfast is coming soon. If it’s dark, I let the light in and air the room,” she said.
“I never come into the room without greeting patients.”
Her efforts don’t go unrecognised. Patients enjoy chats with Liuba and her warm, bubbly personality, sharing their life stories and dreams.
Even thought it might seem difficult to stay motivated and do the same job for 46 years, Liuba says she loves what she does and feels thankful to be healthy and able to perform in her role.
“I love working with people, both staff and patients. We are like a big family here and always have a chat. After losing my husband two years ago, my work family supported me. My manager Snezana Velevski, as well as my team were there for me in those difficult days. It’s like a second home to me,” she said.
Liuba has had her share of challenging days at work, but feels they never last long.
“It’s just like life – if today is a difficult day full of challenges or obstacles, you need to believe that tomorrow will be better. And it usually is. Bad days will go away,” she said.
Language was one of Liuba’s biggest challenges, as she didn’t speak much English when she started, and was 21 years old when she arrived in Australia. She used to carry notes in her pockets to help her learn new words and express herself better.
“I’m a bit shy to talk and not knowing the language made it even more challenging. Over the years, my English got better and I was able to better connect with my colleagues and patients,” she added.
Liuba’s Manager, Snezana Velevski, says she has been working with Liuba for the past three years and she’s seen her dedication, passion and hard work.
“From the moment I walked in on my first day, Liuba was there for me. She is a true team player and has never had a negative thing to say about her colleagues. No matter how tired she might be, she always takes on more tasks. She is just amazing inside and out,” Snezana said.
Liuba is now 70 and goes to church every Sunday. She also likes to visit her friends who are in nursing homes, and spend time with her two children and six grandchildren, but doesn’t plan to retire soon.
“My friends who don’t work always seem to be sick. I think it’s good for me to work. I don’t have time to think about negative things and I have something to keep my mind occupied,” she added.
All these years, Liuba never thought to change jobs and do something else.
“Before working here, I used to work in a clothing company and sat behind the sewing machine all day. When I came to the hospital to work, I felt free as a bird. I could move around and talk to people and that is something I love.”
She feels most proud when she can help others and contribute to her environment, either at work or at home.
“We don’t live this life only to look after ourselves, we live it to look after others too,” Liuba said.
Liuba’s career and the impact she has had on patient’s lives proves that over the last 46 years, she has been doing exactly that.