PLAINS – The Clark Fork Valley Hospital cafeteria was filled with smiling friends and good food Thursday afternoon. There were old photographs of familiar faces strewn across the tables and a sign that read “Happy Retirement.” The celebration was in honor of long-time staff member Helen Ovitt.
Ovitt has worked at CFVH in the medical records, health information and billing department for the past 33 years. She officially announced her retirement at the beginning of this year but has been planning it for much longer. Ovitt has enjoyed her job but is looking forward to the next phase of her life.
Speeches were provided by M.D., President and CEO of Clark Fork Valley Hospital Greg Hanson and CFO Carla Neiman. According to Neiman, when Ovitt started working at CFVH she made $4.05 an hour and Dr. Hanson chimed in by saying not much had changed since then. This was greeted by much laughter from the crowd.
Neiman spoke about how much Ovitt has seen over the years and jokingly said she hopes she does not write a book. Jokes aside, Neiman praised Ovitt’s loyalty to her co-workers and patients as well as her work ethic. In addition to working full-time at the hospital, Ovitt managed to get her Associates Degree in just two years while teaching college courses on top of working.
Ovitt has worked since she was in the eighth grade but has always managed to put family and friends first. She raised a family at home and a family of co-workers as well. Her co-workers are going to miss her but they are excited for her to enjoy retirement.
Ovitt decided it was time to retire for a few reasons. Her husband has been retired for about four years now and she thought she should join him. Then a few personal tragedies took place that finalized Ovitt’s decision.
“We had some things happen and I realized how short and precious life is,” Ovitt said.
Ovitt plans to spend her retirement focusing even more on her family, especially her grandchildren.
“They are very active in sports,” Ovitt said. “We will be heading to watch the basketball Divisional which is very exciting.”
She also plans to teach her younger granddaughter Cassidy to sew - a passion they both share.
In addition to increasing family time, Ovitt said she would also like to volunteer. All in all, she is ready to look to the future and leave her long-time job behind.
“I feel ready to move on. They hired the lady who is going to replace me and she has been working with me for several months now and training to move into that position,” Ovitt said. “I think she is going to do an excellent job.”
Making the switch from working full-time to retirement will be a transition for Ovitt -- but she is very accustomed to dealing with change.
“I have liked my job because it was always changing and that was exciting. We switched from all paper records to all electronic records and from using typewriters to using computers,” Ovitt said. “Change is a part of life.”
Although Ovitt feels fully ready to retire, she said she will miss the job but she will especially miss her work family.
“I am going to miss the friendships. I will have worked with some of those women since the 90s and I am really going to miss them,” she said. “You work together so long you become like family.”