Christmas at Royal Inland Hospital will be a little bit less merry following the retirement of Nito Scalise, who had been working in the housekeeping department for 36 years.
Scalise came to Canada from Italy in 1977.
After working briefly at a handful of other jobs, he landed his position at the hospital on Oct. 8, 1982.
“I had no school. I got this job,” he said. “I like it and I stay here.”
Co-workers at RIH point to Scalise’s warmth and positivity as reasons they are sad to see him go.
“Nito’s always cheery and happy,” said Maureen Burian, who works in the pharmacy department. “Always willing to help.
“He always makes a point of saying hello to everybody.”
Deanna Stout, who works in the renal department, shared similar memories, noting Scalise would greet their department with “Good morning beautiful people” each day.
Stout also pointed out that the holiday season won’t be the same without Scalise because of a festive touch he brings to his work every year.
“His garbage cart — he decorates every year as a reindeer,” she said.
Scalise said he decorated the cart for more than 15 years. During the Christmas season, it would feature a wooden reindeer head at the front, with antlers carrying bright lights.
The cart was also wired to play Christmas music.
“I started with a little reindeer and patients really loved it,” Scalise said. “Then I made it bigger. Mostly it’s for the patients and for everybody else here. Everybody loves it.”
According to Scalise, patients in the renal unit really enjoyed the decorated cart.
“I had a patient a few years ago,” he said. “She goes ‘I don’t remember nothing from last year, but I do remember your reindeer.’
“And that makes me happy.”
Scalise enjoyed his job at Royal Inland Hospital and will miss both patients and co-workers, but he is also looking forward to retirement.
He plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and visit his father in Italy.
“He’s 93 years old and I’m going to see him,” Scalise said.
“That will be my retirement gift. I’m going to drink the red wine and play cards with my father for three weeks.”