After 22 years of steadfast commitment to improving the lives of kidney patients, Violet Tong, team lead at Fraser Health’s Surrey Kidney Care Centre, is retiring in October.
Violet, a Hong Kong nursing school graduate of 1986, became a registered nurse in BC three years later. She worked in cardiac and advanced care settings before moving to kidney care in 2000. She switched because, “Kidney care involves providing self-management support to patients with chronic conditions that enables them to manage their health day-to-day.”
Violet explains further, “Most newly referred patients don’t have much knowledge on caring for their kidneys. It’s rewarding to receive phone calls from patients after several months asking about their abnormal lab results. This tells me patients check their bloodwork, understand normal ranges and feel comfortable enough to take initiative and to seek advice.”
She notes, “Having opportunities to build long-term, trusting and meaningful relationships with patients appeals to me and is one of the main reasons I stayed in kidney care. I know I can make a difference in peoples’ lives one patient at a time.”
Shelly Narayan, Fraser Health’s renal program manager, has worked with Violet for 15 years. She says Violet’s commitment to kidney care goals, values and initiatives are admirable and are based on her personal attributes: “Kind, compassionate, approachable, competent, visionary and diligent are the first words which come to mind when I think of Violet.”
When asked who inspired her and influenced her nursing practice, Violet has a ready answer: “My parents are my greatest inspiration in life. They are caring, compassionate and hard-working.” She continues, “I attribute much of who I am to them. I carry their qualities and values in nursing, to be empathetic towards people, to embrace and adapt to change and to always be ready to learn new skills. Dad encouraged me to come to Canada. He said, ‘The world is big, go and explore it when you can.’”
Coworkers agree Violet has the same qualities she admired in her parents. Dr. Melanie Brown, medical director of the Fraser Health renal program, says, “She is one of the most diligent and dedicated individuals I've worked with. Violet cares very much about patient care quality and that things are done correctly. I have to ensure I don't send emails after hours or on weekends because she will respond immediately!”
But Violet isn’t just all business: Melanie notes Violet’s creative side comes through when she makes workmates homemade cards and paper quilling for special events.
Alice Cabarlo, a fellow nurse at the Surrey Kidney Care Centre, knows Violet as both a colleague and a thoughtful friend. Alice says, “She is friendly, resourceful and will let you know if there is something that needs to be pointed out, to let you see another side of the situation.” In short, Alice says Violet is “the best team leader I have worked with.”
Violet has the important ability, notes Alice, to define when she’s speaking on work terms or on a more personal level. “She’ll say, ‘I am talking to you as a team leader now’ or ‘As a friend, I think…’”
Adding on some of the nicest of compliments one could receive, Alice says, “Violet is not only my team leader but also a true friend and I consider her as a sister I never had.”
Looking to the future, Alice undoubtedly speaks for many others when she says, “I will miss Violet and wish her all the best on this other journey, which I am sure will be filled with excitement and always something to look forward to.”