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The Team at St. Boniface Hospital: Erick Jolicoeur

Erick standing in front of tanks

I wouldn’t exist without St. Boniface Hospital, 

Erick says as he checks the glowing readout in the cool early morning air, preparing the generator to deliver electricity to the hospital – electricity will enable the treatment of hundreds of patients today. “This hospital gives me life.”

Before he was in charge of the oxygen concentrator and the two large hospital generators, Erick spent four years manning the hospital gate as a security guard. Before that, Erick worked as a mason in the surrounding town of Fond-des-Blancs. And, before he moved to Fond-des-Blancs twelve years ago, Erick lived in a small house with his mother and six siblings, struggling to make ends meet. These experiences make his work at St. Boniface Hospital meaningful.

“Life was very, very hard for us growing up. My father died when I was 6 years old, so my mother was responsible for me and all of my siblings,” Erick explains. “I first came to Fond-des-Blancs because I had nothing. I couldn’t find work at home, so I moved in with my sister who lived here.” Eventually, Erick secured a job at St. Boniface Hospital, the largest employer of Fond-des-Blancs residents.  “Working at the hospital allows me to buy food so I don’t have to go hungry anymore. I can even help my family with the money that I earn.”

Erick has worked two jobs at the hospital since SBHF’s partner organization, Build Health International, started construction on the Maternal Health Center this past February. He is known as one of the hardest workers on-site. When he wasn’t fulfilling his duties as a security guard, Erick could be found on the construction site. He was recently promoted from security guard to his current position as manager of the hospital oxygen and generators. Despite the added responsibilities of his work, Erick still fills any free daylight hours with construction work and often stays past dark to help with odd jobs around the hospital.

Though Erick says that the hospital gives him life, he makes it clear that this means more than food on the table and the ability to provide for his family. His hard work is meant for the entire community. “I love working here because this hospital is for all of us in Fond-des-Blancs,” he explains. “If my friends went to another hospital for a C-section they would pay ten times what they pay here. Affordable health care is a huge help to them.”
Erick checking a machine
It is clear that this subject hits close to home for Erick. His mother was admitted to St. Boniface Hospital this past winter. “My mom came when she was sick. The hospital gave her great care, for free, during her last days.” Without the devotion of Erick’s fellow staff, his mother likely would have suffered at home, unable to access the care she deserved at the end of her life. Erick’s gratitude is visible, and he frequently and humbly shifts the spotlight to the St. Boniface leadership and his fellow staff members.

“The staff here are great people,” emphasizes Erick. He praises the work of both the local and international staff members that have come together for a greater purpose, counting himself fortunate to be a part of the mission to provide affordable health care. “[The staff] began this mission and have done a lot already, but we aren’t done yet!”