In a sign of the impending merger with Ellis Hospital, St. Clare’s public relations director has reluctantly left the hospital that she worked at for nearly three decades.
Tuesday was Celia Mack’s last day as director of corporate communications at St. Clare’s after 28 years on the job. But even though the hospital has stopped paying her, she can’t tear herself away.
“I’m just going to wear a different hat. I’m going to put on a volunteer hat,” she said. “I’ll be available to St. Clare’s as needed.”
It’s not that Mack won’t be busy — she has been hired as director of marketing by New York Oncology Hematology, an Albany cancer treatment center — but she can’t stop loving St. Clare’s.
“I would not have left St. Clare’s ever. Wild horses could not have made me leave St. Clare’s,” she said. “But the Berger Commission is law. It was time to look for other opportunities.”
The commission recommended that Ellis Hospital and St. Clare’s consolidate. In January, the two hospitals agreed to a merger in which Ellis will take over operations of both hospitals. Since Ellis already has a public relations director, Mack knew there would be no need for her in the new organization.
But it hurt to say goodbye. Mack, 58, was the hospital’s first director of communications, “the only one the hospital has ever had,” she said. The hospital is only two years older than she is.
In her decades at St. Clare’s, Mack played a role in every major milestone at the hospital, including every family medicine residency graduation. She’s going to the next graduation even if she has to slip in as a volunteer.
“I have known every group of family medicine residents since the program began,” she said.
With just a few years left before she could retire, she said she was a bit worried about her job prospects when the merger was announced.
“I had my moments of anxiety, going out for the first time in 28 years to look for employment,” she said.
But when she started looking, several medical agencies told her they were interested.
She said she sold her age as an added advantage.
“I see it as I’m experienced, I’m wise, I have an impeccable work ethic,” she said.
Even though she has to leave St. Clare’s, she’s excited about working for Oncology Hematology.
“I love everything about medicine,” she said. “I like the privilege of being able to share those stories. . . . For a storyteller like me, it’s a wonderful opportunity.”
And she admitted there’s one part of her St. Clare’s job that she won’t miss: the late-night calls from reporters who need the condition of a newsworthy patient.
“There probably won’t be too many of those anymore,” she said cheerfully.