Dennis Sweeney: Patient, Employee, Donor and Volunteer

29 February, 2024 | Profiles, St. Boniface Hospital

If you’ve spent any amount of time at St. Boniface Hospital in the last fifty years, there’s an excellent chance you’ve run into the one and only Dennis Sweeney. It makes sense: the hospital has been a part of Sweeney’s life in almost every way, and he holds it very close to his heart.

“I first worked at the hospital filling in for someone’s one month vacation,” Sweeney recalls. “Back then, I had to manually track where all the patients had been transported, and I couldn’t leave for the day until I balanced. There weren’t any computers and there were a lot of phone calls to find people!”

He eventually gained permanent full-time employment, spent a happy career at the hospital and retired on December 31, 2012 after a forty year career. Sweeney didn’t stay away for long: he began volunteering in February 2013. He has supported patient registration, information and paging, and what he calls “poster duty,” ensuring all flyers on the campus are authorized and timely. He most recently started welcoming guests to the Buhler Gallery, the hospital art space.

“I’ve had some health issues lately, and the hospital found a place for me where I can sit while I volunteer,” Sweeney continues. “I used to walk up to 17,000 steps a day while at the hospital, and it’s very nice of them to find a way to accommodate my new needs.”

That sense of gratitude drives Sweeney’s dedication to the hospital. Besides being an employee and volunteer, he’s also been a patient. “I’ve had 16 major and minor surgeries at St. Boniface over the last 60 years,” he shares. “I am such a fan of the work done by the nurses. I buy them a big bouquet of flowers every year for National Nursing Week.”

“In my case, I am dedicated to the hospital because of the way I’ve been treated right from the start,” Sweeney continues, “I started as a casual employee and worked my way up. I know that if I was in the private sector, with all my health issues, I wouldn’t have been able to work at all. The hospital took me on, and it was the best move I ever made.”

He has also demonstrated his gratitude by being a regular donor to the hospital foundation. Sweeney proudly shows off the many pins he has received over the years: five years of volunteering, 40 years of employment, and long-time donor. “I give what I can, when I can,” he shares. “It all makes a difference, you know.”

His advice for anyone considering a volunteer role at St. Boniface Hospital? “It’s an extraordinary experience, and you’ll fall in love with it,” he says. “It’s a great feeling to be somewhere I’m known. If I take time off for health reasons or for a trip, people tell me it’s so great to see me back, doing what I love. And I do. I do love it.”

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If you’d like to explore volunteer opportunities at St. Boniface Hospital, please click here.