"How you all doin' today?" says Eugene Jordan as he passes by patients, caregivers and visitors alike. "It's a beautiful day."
With a ready smile and a friendly demeanor, Eugene is very much the face of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. "He's one of our greatest ambassadors," says Dr. David F. Perse, president and CEO.
Eugene isn't a doctor, nurse or administrator. He's a painter. But to anyone who knows him, he's so much more. Eugene was recognized at our Caritas event on October 6 with the Radiant Spirit Award, honoring those individuals in our community who live lives of quiet dignity, service to their fellow man, heroism, generosity of spirit, warmth, leadership, care, and love.
As the first recipient of this inaugural award, Eugene Jordan embodies all that makes St. Vincent Charity a loving and compassionate community. We are thankful to have caregivers like him that serve as a wonderful example for others.
As a young man, he struggled to find work in the steel mills. Eventually, he found work with a contractor and the first job he was sent out on landed him at the doors of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. Now, 30 years later, Eugene cherishes his position at St. Vincent Charity, which he views not only as the hospital painter, but also as part-time caregiver, welcoming committee and mentor.
“I came looking for a job, but what I found was a second home. Everyone here cares about each other and cares about the mission of the hospital. Where else can you go to a job like that?” Eugene asks.
Eugene was hired as the hospital’s painter in 1985 based on the construction trades taught him by his father and grandfather. The elder Jordan started taking Eugene to their construction jobs when he was 12, teaching him how to work with his hands, plaster and paint.
“That was how it worked in those days. I worked with them every day and we did all the work that needed done around the house, too,” says Eugene. “My father and grandfather weren’t just teaching me the trade, but they truly were my elders, my positive role models. We need more positive role models like that today.”
As Eugene started his job at St. Vincent Charity, he put his family trade skills to work to benefit the hospital. However, he quickly learned his role extended well beyond his job as painter. As a St. Vincent Charity employee, he embraced the hospital’s mission that everyone - whether a nurse or physician, maintenance staff or cafeteria worker - is integral to providing patient care.
“This hospital really does live its mission of caring and healing everyone who comes here. We are all treated like family and so we work hard to care for patients and their families like our own,” Eugene says. “When I see a family in the hospital, I try to talk to them, welcome them and answer any questions. We want patients and families to WANT to come back. We take great pride when they DO come back.”
That commitment to its missions extends well beyond the walls of the hospital into the local community. He is proud to be part of this hospital family that regularly demonstrates kindness and compassion to the local neighborhood through food drives, clothing donations and programs with the schools. Eugene himself has played “Santa” for the kids at Marion Sterling School for the last 10 years –- a job that he says brings him great joy.
"I love being Santa and the kids love it, too," he says.
As a member of the hospital family, Eugene feels a sense of duty to contribute to the mission, which is why he recently made an additional contribution to the St. Vincent Charity Foundation. “I know how much this money will mean to caring for more patients. We are growing with the new technology and physicians we are bringing in. Our future looks bright and I know this money will help us get even better. This is my family. I couldn’t say no,” he said.
Following the example of his father and grandfather, Eugene has taken on a mentor role for new employees and staff as they join the St. Vincent Charity family. As an Executive member of the employee union, he and other longtime staff work hard to welcome new employees and to help “hand down” an understanding and commitment of the St. Vincent Charity mission.
Over the years, Eugene has seen many changes in the leadership, construction and technology at St. Vincent Charity. The one thing that has never changed, he said, is “the mission, values and caring in the healing ways of Jesus. We need to keep that going.”