MCH Respiratory and Anesthesia Services Manager keeps things cooking

Pina Diana always seems to have a smile on her face. When you enter her office and see the family photos and beach scenes on her wall and screensaver, you get a sense of what she’s like: happy, family-centered and a sun-loving goddess!

Pina is the Manager of Respiratory Services, which includes Respiratory Therapy, the Pulmonary Function Laboratory, the Sleep Laboratory/Jeremy Rill Centre and Anesthesia Services. Her staff consists of Respiratory Therapists, auxiliary and clerical staff.

“I started at The Children’s in 1984 as a Respiratory Therapist (RRT). I was fresh out of school and had just graduated from a three-year program at Vanier College,” says Pina. “When I was at Vanier in my final year of stage, I did a four-week clinical rotation here and I fell in love with the place and the people. I knew this was where I wanted to work.”

When she started, technology in her field was taking off. “New ventilators and new therapies were being developed constantly,” says Pina. “I felt I was part of this growth and implementation.”

Within six years of starting at the MCH, Pina became Assistant Chief of Respiratory Therapy, which meant taking on responsibilities beyond patient care including supervising, teaching, office work, and quality assurance. In 2000, she got the job she holds today.

Looking back over her career, Pina says she’s overcome a few hurdles. Her first was getting to know the department of Anaesthesia. “It took me a good year to get to know Anaesthesia because I had never worked in this area of specialty before.” And when she became Manager there was a severe RT shortage, which lasted two years, so she made recruiting and retention a main focus. “Maintaining a good family-work balance and a pleasant work environment was my goal in retaining exceptionally skilled Pediatric Respiratory Therapists and in recruiting new staff.”

Marisa Leone, assistant manager of the Respiratory Therapy Department, has shared an office with Pina for about 15 years and says that Pina has always stayed focused on the goal, even when things are very hectic. “She has a great work ethic and knows how to get things done,” says Marisa. “She is organized, meticulous, and above all, dedicated to maintaining the best quality of care for patients by giving her staff all the tools they need to do their job well.” Pina admits that as Manager, she misses the patient contact but she always puts their needs first when making decisions.

So how does she keep such a cool, calm and happy perspective on life? “Cooking is my de-stressor!” says Pina. “I love to cook and I love to read cookbooks. For me, a cookbook is a novel—I literally read them from cover to cover…every single detail.” And what is she reading now? “Ina Garten: Back to Basics,” says Pina, smiling broadly. “I love her!”

Her favourite day of the week is, without a doubt, Friday because that’s the day she goes grocery shopping. And when she gets home, she enjoys a glass of wine with her husband followed by a superb meal with their 12-year-old daughter. It’s her evening to relax and enjoy being with her family.

What else keeps her smiling? Warm weather. “I simply adore summer! Perfection for me would be a quiet day on a beach, lying in a hammock and listening to the waves hitting the beach. There’s nothing like it!”