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Niagara Health Celebrates 100-Year-Old Dialysis Patient's Remarkable Journey

Posted Mar 19th, 2024

Phyllis Romak, dialysis patient at the Marotta Family Hospital in St. Catharines proudly holds up a birthday card filled with kind messages from her care team.

Phyllis Romak is the first dialysis patient to reach 100 years old at St. Catharines Hospital.

What’s her secret? Living in the moment and cherishing the blessings of good health and support from loved ones.

Romak recently marked this extraordinary milestone with her care team during her regular dialysis treatment. The celebration included festive decorations, balloons, a cake and a card filled with thoughtful messages.

Born in Ukraine, Romak moved to Canada at a young age and settled in St. Catharines. She fondly remembers the early days when the city had just a fraction of its current population, reflecting on how much it has grown and evolved over the decades.

"As the years passed, I never felt that old, and I've always been grateful for my health. St. Catharines has been a wonderful place to live, and I've always felt fortunate to call it home," Romak reflects.

Despite facing health challenges and being on dialysis for the past seven years, Romak maintains an incredibly positive outlook on life. She expressed her gratitude for the exceptional care at Niagara Health and the warm welcome she receives from staff every time she comes in for an appointment.

“We’re really lucky to have this hospital here. It is very accessible and most of all, the people are great,” says Romak.

As a social worker at Niagara Health, Krista Torraville plays a vital role in caring for patients like Romak through their dialysis journey. She stresses the significance of teamwork and positivity in creating a supportive environment for patients dealing with chronic conditions. Torraville and her team are dedicated to fostering a sense of community among patients through engaging initiatives like their seasonal colouring contests.

“We take a team-focused program, we’re very interdisciplinary. There are dietitians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers and many more. Everybody plays an important role,” says Torraville.

Romak’s strength and determination inspires everyone around her, including the healthcare professionals who care for her. Torraville says she admires Romak’s commitment to staying active and maintaining her independence, despite the challenges she faces. With her loving family by her side and the exceptional care provided by the dialysis team, Romak continues to thrive.

Phyllis celebrating her 100th birthday with her dialysis team at the Marotta Family Hospital in St. Catharines. They are (from left) Kelly Harley, Catherine Oriold, Krista Torraville, Gabriella Milanovich and Romana Costa.

“We have quite a few patients that are older. We attribute their ability to cope with this life sustaining treatment to their commitment to continue to have a good quality of life. We are amazed every day of their positive attitude and resiliency,” says Torraville.

As Romak celebrated her 100th birthday, she embodied the spirit of resilience and positivity that defines Niagara Health's commitment to patient care. Her remarkable journey serves as a reminder of the importance of embracing each day with gratitude and optimism, even in the face of adversity.

Niagara Health System