For more than 30 years, Agnes Faraci had her finger on the pulse of patient care. As a nurse, she travelled around the globe, working at hospitals in Madrid, Munich and Rome. She volunteered to help doctors care for the less fortunate in medical missions to Central and South America. While a nurse in the naval reserve, she trained medics. And she spent time at every single hospital in Toronto. "In all my years of nursing, I've always considered St. Michael's home," says Agnes. "I can say with certainty that it's the number one hospital out there."
Her patient care journey began when she graduated from St. Michael's nursing school in 1960. It was a pivotal period, replete with optimism about the future of health care. The hospital had recently achieved a major milestone, performing one of the first open-heart surgeries in Ontario, and the Sisters of St. Joseph were an ever-present influence, commanding the halls with compassion.
"I remember Sister Florian the best," says Agnes. "She used to come to every shift to check on us. And when the nuns had an event, she would stuff sandwiches under her bib and bring them to our floor." As a relief nurse, Agnes quickly got to know every face and floor at St. Michael's. "I never felt like a stranger," she says. "Everyone was so friendly and open to helping. It was such a nice atmosphere to work in. That's so important."
Agnes's desire to travel compelled her to sail to Spain in 1965, where she spent a year working at a local hospital in Madrid. She came home to Toronto to save money before heading back to Europe – this time to work at a U.S. army hospital in Munich, Germany.
Her next venture was a one-year stretch at Rome's Salvator Mundi International Hospital, a private facility that was known to attract celebrities. She vividly remembers the day Rock Hudson stopped by to visit a patient – "hospital staff lined up outside the hospital to see him!" Another time, she was sent to Italian director Vittorio de Sica's home to administer a shot to his son. "I knocked on his apartment door and the maid told me to come around to the servant's entrance!" she recalls, laughing. "I gave him his shot, made $1.50, and took the tram home!"
I know that health-care facilities are always in need of money, and I know that St. Michael's will put it to good use. — Agnes Faraci
Agnes's nursing career is punctuated by the compassionate care she delivered during six separate medical missions to poor communities in Central and South America. "I love helping people. It's very rewarding when you're able to do that," she says.
Despite her international experience, there was only one place she ever considered home. "I always ended up coming back to St. Mike's," she says. "To me, it's the best hospital by far." When Agnes's 94-year-old mother fell ill and required palliative care, she was admitted to St. Michael's. "It was like being back home," she remembers.
Agnes has not only given back to St. Michael's as a nurse, she's also a longtime donor who has made generous gifts annually to help fund important hospital priorities. "I know that health-care facilities are always in need of money, and I know that St. Michael's will put it to good use," she says.
Coming full circle, Agnes has decided to make a legacy gift by including St. Michael's in her will. "I've had a really good life. I've been very fortunate," she says. "St. Michael's will always have a soft spot in my heart."