Each year, five women are chosen by the Punxsutawney Career Womenâ€™s Club for Career Womenâ€™s Week. The criteria used for choosing these women are based not only on their professional efforts, but also on the contributions they have made to community and family.
The club was founded in 1930, originally known as Punxsutawney Business & Professional Womenâ€™s Club. Sept. 8, 1998, the club name was changed and incorporated as a non-profit organization under the name of Punxsutawney Career Womenâ€™s Club, with objectives to promote growth and respect of women in the workplace; improve self-esteem in all careers; educate women; and support community projects.
PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Virginia â€śGinnyâ€ť Haines may prepare patients at Dr. Jose Silvaâ€™s office for their cancer treatments, but says sheâ€™s not the one doing all the work.
â€śThe patients and the families are the heroes,â€ť said Haines, a Long Island, N.Y., native who now lives in Homer City. â€śWhen you think about your life and all the problems you might have â€” put cancer on top of that.
â€śThese people are not in a bubble,â€ť she said. â€śThey still go home and find the washing machine is broken, or something else. They still have all the problems that we have. They have all that on top of being sick. They deal with cancer 24/7.â€ť
After graduating from high school in Long Island, Haines worked as a nurseâ€™s aide, eventually deciding to try the profession full-time. She earned her LPN in 1975 and later, her RN from the University of Texas.
While working in Houston, Haines said three doctors at the hospital sought to create an oncology unit, and she was among the nurses who took the eight weeks of training for the new unit.
â€śI thought that would be something good to learn,â€ť Haines said. â€śOncology is never boring.
â€śCancer affects every organ, every place in a personâ€™s body,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s just unending, how many different scenarios can happen. Itâ€™s a lot of stuff to learn.â€ť
Before coming to Punxsutawney Area Hospital in 1998, Haines worked in a West Penn Hospital satellite office. Once she came to Punxsy, Haines worked in home health with Dr. Kathy Selvaggi, who was initially at the hospital one day a week.
Because she had given chemotherapy previously, Haines was sought by
Selvaggi for her experience in oncology.
These days, Silvaâ€™s staff operates the oncology office four days a week, while Haines, Silva and another LPN travel to Kittanning Thursdays.
The technology and treatments â€” notably the medication â€” for cancer have only improved over the years, Haines said.
â€śWhen I started doing chemo, you could not do it anywhere but the hospital,â€ť she said. â€śAnd the drugs for nausea were inadequate, and people would be so sick.â€ť
Haines was hard-pressed to come up with an out-of-work activity, although she said she is active in her church, Cornerstone Ministries in Indiana.
â€śI think Iâ€™m always working,â€ť she said. â€śI feel like if Iâ€™m not here, Iâ€™m thinking about here. You think about the problems (patients) have: If their scan comes out well, if theyâ€™re taking the pills you told them to take. It runs through your mind.
â€śEvery patient is so unique; you have to adjust to their personalities,â€ť Haines said. â€śSome people want to know everything (about treatment), and some want to know nothing.â€ť
She met her husband, Jerry, in Texas, but when they visited her parents in this area, because Haines had an aunt living here, â€ś(Jerry) thought Pennsylvania was beautiful,â€ť and the couple relocated to the Keystone State. They have two grown sons, Ethan and Tracy, and a dog, Max.
When she was told she was one of this yearâ€™s five Career Women of the Week, Haines said she was â€śhonored and humbled, but like I said, the patients are the heroes. I just try to do my best to take care of them, and I donâ€™t do it on my own. God is with me. I couldnâ€™t do it without Him.â€ť