Welcome to Defender Profiles. Here you’ll learn about one of our amazing defenders of childhood – everything from what they do for CHOC to what they do for fun – and gain insight into a different department in our health system.
After a phone call one afternoon on her birthday, Christine McGuigan received the gift of joining CHOC’s mighty brigade. Twelve years later, she works as a food service worker II in the kitchen at CHOC Orange, serving our patients with smiles and delicious food. Christine loves bowling, sewing and going on cruises, and loves spending time at her second home – CHOC.
How long have you worked at CHOC?
I’ve worked at CHOC for 12 years, as of September 2023. I started with CHOC with a temporary agency and I got the phone call for the job on my birthday. I was driving when I received the phone call and I typically don’t answer while driving, but decided to that afternoon. When they shared that the position was at CHOC, I said, “I’ll take it!” To get that phone call on my birthday was such a gift and about a year later I got hired permanently by CHOC.
Can you describe your current role?
As a food service worker at CHOC, I provide room service to our patients at CHOC. That includes adhering to the special diets of our children who are staying at CHOC. We make sure their food prepared is precise to their special diets. We take the trays up to the rooms for each of their meals during their stay.
What do you love about your current role?
Everything! Seeing the kids happy when I go into the room. Sometimes they’ll be crying when I enter the room and then when they see me, that will make them smile and start laughing. Also, seeing them on an ongoing basis allows me to build a relationship with them and their families which is nice. It brings me joy to see that I made a mark in their life. If I can do one thing to make somebody happy in a day, my day is complete.
What do you love about working at CHOC?
I love working at CHOC so much. It is like my second home. If I could work every day I would. I love the kiddos and all the activities they have for the kids. I enjoy getting to watch them experience childhood. CHOC does so much to make our children enjoy their time here while going through tough times. One of my favorite events was the CHOC Walk. I participated for the first time this year and I can’t wait to do it again next year. It was so much fun.
How has CHOC changed and progressed in your time here?
It’s been amazing seeing all the changes during my time here. I’ve gotten to experience expansions and new buildings being built. It was great seeing the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center and the Thompson Autism and Neurodevelopmental Center being added because we really needed them. CHOC has come a long way and being a part of the growth is wonderful.
What do you wish associates knew about our food services department?
How hard we work. From the start of our shift to the end, we are working hard. I personally walk between 18,000 to 20,000 steps a day during my shift – as we visit all floors in the hospital, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center, the Julia & George Argyros Emergency Department and occasionally the preoperative and post-anesthesia care units – all which are spread out at our CHOC Orange campus. We are keeping up with sanitation, prepping continuously and assuring that items are stocked. Our work is very time sensitive. We have 45 minutes from the time the ticket is printed to get the trays up to our patients’ rooms and 10 minutes after the trays are plated, we have to be on the road upstairs. Everything’s precise.
Do you have any favorite moments or stories about working at CHOC that you can share?
Christmastime at CHOC has always been amazing to be a part of. From Santa Claus climbing up a fire truck ladder to wave to patients inside to the Harley Davidson motorcycle riders arriving with toys, it’s all so fun. One year, the team at Disney came to put up a gingerbread house and when we walked into the hospital, it smelled like gingerbread. It’s such a fun time to experience with the children and families.
What do you think makes someone a great Defender of Childhood?
Being there for our patients and families and each other. If I see somebody in the hallway and they look kind of lost, I’ll say “Where do you need to go” or “Are you looking for a room?” Going a step further to help and doing things outside of the day-to-day tasks of my current role.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I love to bowl, and I just joined a league. I also like to sew, do diamond painting (applying small resin rhinestones to a pre-printed design), and go on cruises. My last cruise was to Mexico and it was a lot of fun.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I want to go on a 14-day cruise to Hawaii.