Nova Scotia

This man has never missed a day of work in 36 years — and he's surrounded by germs

Meet Mike Turner, also known as Ironman. Not even a kidney stone could stop him from coming to work. In 36 years, he's never called in sick.

Mike Turner started working at the hospital in Truro, N.S., on Aug. 8, 1983

Mike Turner's attendance record is nothing to sneeze at. He's never taken a sick day in 36 years on the job. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

They call him the Ironman.

Next week, Mike Turner will achieve a stunning milestone: 36 years on the job without ever taking a sick day. 

There was one day, though, when he missed 15 minutes of work. He had a good excuse: a kidney stone was working its way through his body.

"I went down to the locker room, and I sat on the sofa for about 15 minutes and [the pain] went away," he said. "If the pain had got any worse, I would've had to go home that day."

What's even more remarkable about Turner's perfect attendance record is that he works in a hospital, the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, N.S., surrounded by germs and illness.

"I don't like to jinx myself, but I mean I have been very lucky and I guess my immune system is very strong."

Turner works in the stores at the hospital in Truro. It's his job to make sure every department has the supplies they need. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Turner is a modest, shy man who is passionate about his job. He started out on Aug. 8, 1983, at the old Colchester Hospital. Back then, he was a utility worker in the dietary department.

"I was washing pots, and I also brought trays up to the patients and worked in the dish room."

In five years of interacting with patients, he never once had a day where he thought he should go home.

"I've had a cold before, but I've never had one that floored me."

Turner eventually landed in supply distribution, making sure every department is properly stocked in bandages, tape, tubes and more. Every item that isn't a medication has gone through Turner's department.

His coworkers say Turner is the first to volunteer for any event.

"Every year ticks away and I continue to have perfect attendance," he said. "Like I say, it's very lucky."

'I got a standing ovation'

It turns out, Turner's perfect record isn't just at work. Growing up, he never missed a day of school.

"When I graduated, I got a standing ovation," he said.

There's no trick to his healthy lifestyle, he said. He usually starts his day off with a bowl of cereal — often Frosted Flakes (but don't tell the nutritionists at the hospital that bit).

"I do wash my hands, but I'm not one of these people who washes their hands constantly when they touch a door or whatever."

Whatever the secret, Turner is just taking it day by day. He said retirement is a few years off, but he's not putting any pressure on himself to finish with the perfect record.

"It's an honour, I guess."

About the Author

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

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