The saying “laughter is the best medicine” is something Greg Karman lives every day.
As a patient services aide (PSA), Greg’s role is essential. It includes housekeeping duties, putting fresh linens on the beds, delivering food trays and some portering. “We feel very valued as a part of the care team. A big reason I’m here is because I get to work with great people,” he says.
Greg has worked at St. John’s Rehab for 29 years. His mother worked in the admitting department at St. John’s Rehab for 25 years, and Greg says, “When I started here, I began having such a good time I never left!” He has held many positions over the years, starting as a porter. Greg later worked in shipping and receiving, then groundskeeping, but he missed getting to know patients. He feels that being a PSA is the best fit for him.
Greg says the best part of his job is interacting with patients and making them smile. “People really enjoy making a connection with someone, and laughter helps you do that. Putting people at ease with silly jokes and stories helps with healing and getting through the day,” he says. “Patients in rehab are often dealing with the biggest life changes you can imagine. If I can bring a bit of joy to their day, it’s an honour.”
Greg has been happily married for 20 years, with two sons he is extremely proud of. He loves getting away to the family cottage in the summer, which has been a part of their tradition for decades. In his spare time, Greg plays the drums with his blues-rock band, which supports charitable organizations through their gigs. “Music and giving back is very rewarding for me.”
At the end of the day, it’s the little gestures for which Greg is known. “It’s amazing how much of a difference you make just by helping patients open up their [dresser] drawer or by asking how their day is going. People call me ‘The Smiling Man,’ and that is the biggest compliment.”
Photography by Doug Nicholson