News

Retired head of radiology saw plenty of changes at NGH over the years

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

Steve Egan retired at the end of November after 37 years working at the Norfolk General Hospital. Egan was director of the hospital's radiology department at the time of his retirement. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

Steve Egan retired at the end of November after 37 years working at the Norfolk General Hospital. Egan was director of the hospital's radiology department at the time of his retirement. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

SIMCOE - 

In addition to a heralded career with Norfolk General Hospital – one that spanned nearly 40 years - Steve Egan also has a way with words.

Hired as a full-time charge technician in the radiology department in June of 1980, Egan moved up the ranks to become the facility’s director of radiology, a position he held until retiring on Nov. 30.

Egan was able to describe his career in just two words.

“I survived,” he said during the last couple hours in his office on the second floor. “I survived a lot of changes. Now, change is the norm – you’ve got to be on your toes, thinking all the time. We have a good group of medical radiation technologists, CT technologists, ultrasound technologists, breast screening technologists – they’re all super, they’re all professional and really easy to work with.

“There’s so much stuff that goes on behind the scenes with this position but you just sort of grow into it and do it. The biggest thing I’m going to miss is the people that I work with, not the emails.”

Egan estimates he spent at least one hour each Monday morning combing through messages before answering voicemails. While he won’t miss that process, the Ottawa native and graduate of Western University/Fanshawe College will look back with fond memories of NGH.

“I knew it was time,” he said. “(NGH CEO) Kelly Isfan and the HR department have been terrific, they’ve been proactive trying to recruit.”

“It’s all looked after, life goes on - I leave it in good hands.”

Egan said he basically stumbled onto his career path, but knew almost immediately after he began studying radiology that it would be a lifelong passion.

“It was very interesting, the training was more hands-on than it is now,” he said. “These days all the MRTs are university grads, they come out very academic and very well trained. I have no hesitation leaving it in their hands because they’re very capable and just terrific to work with.”

After graduation, Egan was hired immediately to work in the Kitchener/Waterloo area. In looking to advance, he sent applications to both NGH and a hospital in Cleveland. A willingness shown by the folks in Norfolk won him over.

“They phoned me from Norfolk General two or three times and I said ‘OK, I can start Monday’ and I’ve been here ever since,” Egan recalled.

That year he moved to Simcoe, met a girl, got married and the pair had two boys. His life wasn’t the only thing that changed drastically. The move from X-ray film (which cost between $1-2 each to develop) to the digital imaging used today has been a major benefit.

“Basically, you don’t make any mistakes. With film it was more difficult, more time consuming, more expensive for the hospital,” he said. “Now it’s all digital, it’s faster, it’s easier, less radiation.

“If you’re going to a specialist you don’t have to come here and pick up your X-ray, we can send it off to whichever hospital, so it’s a lot better for patient care and patient flow.”

One of the best days Egan had on the job was when NGH purchased its CT scanner in 2005. The machine cost upwards of $1 million and in Egan’s mind was worth every penny.

“That was a huge benefit for the patients and the hospital because (before that) we always had to send people out (of town) and it was very time consuming and the other hospitals are really busy anyway,” he explained.

Egan doesn’t have any concrete plans for the coming months except kicking back and enjoying retirement.

“I’m going to take it easy,” he said. “I’m a very simple person, I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle or anything, I just want to relax. It’s a new chapter and we’ll see what happens.”

jrobinson@postmedia.com