On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Kent Hospital is celebrating the birthday of its oldest employee. She is Mary Poncin, of Warwick, RI, and she is turning 100 years old. Poncin, who worked as a waitress for more than 50 years, serves as a paid greeter each morning, five days a week, assisting people in the main entryway at the main hospital building. Though she has a chair in which to sit, she can generally be found on her feet engaging with people she helps, some of whom she accompanies down the hallway to Patient Services.
PBN: How do you like working at Kent Hospital?
PONCIN: I love it. They treat you like a human being, everybody does – the people that I work for, the people that come in and out, the patients. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job that treats a human being as well. That is the honest, God’s truth.
PBN: Does it mean something to you that you work in health care?
PONCIN: Well, yes, it does. People tell me that they have very sick relatives in the hospital when I see them. You always do what you can to cheer them up and to help them in any way you can. And people come back and tell me, “You made a difference to me that day” or “you made my day when you said that.” It means a lot to me.
PBN: What have been the biggest changes to life in Rhode Island during the course of your lifetime?
PONCIN: I think we had a much better world in the old days. We didn’t make much money. We didn’t have anything, we didn’t have a lot. But it was much better. Families were together all weekend, all day. Today, who lives here and who lives there, you don’t hardly ever see anybody. All we have now is big stores that make millions of dollars, and all the small stores go out of business, because all the big ones buy the small ones out. And they wonder why there’s no jobs. There’s no jobs, because there are no places. All you have is big chains and work for minimum wage. In them days, we didn’t make much money, but we were very happy. Today, everyone makes big money and no one’s happy.
PBN: What do you think about Obamacare?
PONCIN: Well, I think it’s a mess. He said, “If you like your plan, keep it.” And then everybody’s out of it. Your doctors are out of it. Your medicines are out of it. This is out of it. So, what are you keeping?
PBN: Are you surprised to be turning 100?
PONCIN: To tell you the truth, I never thought about it. I worked all my life since I was 15 or 16 years old, and now I’m 100 and still working. I never think about how old I am. To me, it’s just another day. I tell you the truth, I tell everybody, right after Dec. 10, I start my life all over again, and I’ll be a baby all over again. One year later I’ll be a year old, and I’ll be starting my life again.