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Hospital Heroes – August 2020

Hospital Heroes

At St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, we take huge pride in the amazing work of our team and their dedication to our mantra: Putting People First.

We have over 570 people working for us across 41 departments and consider each and every one integral to the smooth running of the hospital.

Our Hospital Hero series gives us the opportunity to share their stories, to learn about different roles and to better understanding what it is that appeals to them about caring for patients.

Be sure to follow the hospital’s Instagram account (@stjohnandstelizabethhospital) for our latest portraits and keep an eye on the hospital website for a monthly round-up.

Nassier Ssebagala, Healthcare Assistant

I actually started working at John and Lizzie’s for an agency back in 2010 but the management of the St Francis Ward thought it prudent to recruit me as a full-time member of the team.

I think the duration of my stay is a testament to the amazing atmosphere and cohesiveness at the Hospital and the camaraderie on my ward is out of this world. The management team seem to know everybody and are always approachable, it’s an amazing place to work.

I have worked nights for the last ten years providing compassionate care to our surgical and medical patients and ensuring we provide a safe environment for both patients and staff. On a day-to-day basis, I carry out admissions of patients and prepare them for theatre. Later in the evening, I’ll return to discharge them.

COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone at the Hospital. The fear and trepidation were palpable at the start, especially when colleagues started going off sick. Thankfully, communication from the top was good and everybody seems to be doing well now. I hope the mental scars won’t linger for long.

During this period, I’ve spent two months working at St John’s Hospice, a totally new environment that has helped me gain valuable experience.

Aimee Mayes, Breast Care Specialist Nurse

I joined the team in November and look after our patients coming through our One-Stop Breast Clinics. When there is a diagnosis of breast cancer, I’ll support the patient at the beginning of their cancer care pathway, proudly acting as their advocate, working through challenging decision making, and providing ongoing psychological support and advice.

I am a Surgical Nurse by background, and came into the speciality of breast care through my experience of looking after breast cancer patients undergoing surgery, my teaching role as a Breast Link Nurse, and further exposure through personal experiences.

No matter how emotionally challenging a busy day in the Breast Unit can be, I always take away the outlook that in doing my job, if I’m able to make somebody’s cancer journey that little bit easier, and if I can help a patient to leave an appointment feeling empowered and supported, it has been a good day.

Although the effects of Covid-19 inevitably meant that we reduced the number of patients coming through our one-stop breast clinics, it became even more crucial to reach out to our existing patients, especially those going through treatment such as chemotherapy, so that they didn’t feel alone, or any less of a priority at this time.

When things grew quieter on the unit, I volunteered for redeployment to NHS Nightingale, where I spent about three weeks working on the ward, looking after unwell coronavirus patients requiring intubation and one-to-one specialist care. Although at times challenging, I will always remember this experience for the truly outstanding people I met along the way, as well the bravery and compassion that was demonstrated as a response to London’s outbreak.

Noele Winterson, Senior Staff Nurse, Endoscopy Unit / Theatres

My mum was a nurse and she saw nursing as a reliable career. I guess she was right, I’ve always had work; nursing has always been very, very good to me.

This is my second stint at this Hospital. From 1985 to 1992 I worked in the theatres and when I came back in 2008 I joined the Endoscopy Unit. I’m a lifer…except I went away and came back!

When I was here the first time it was run by nuns – the Sisters of Mercy. There was a convent on-site, each ward had a vocational nurse who was a Sister and our Hospital matron was a nun. I actually lived onsite in the nursing quarters back then and it was great fun. When I returned, that had all changed. The nuns are no longer with us and it’s a completely different environment. I have to say, I wouldn’t have stayed for so long on either occasion if it wasn’t a fab place to work.

Prior to the lockdown, I worked in the Endoscopy room and helped with the patient journey, which includes admissions, assisting in the procedure and then helping with recovery.

When we went into lockdown my role changed. I’ve moved out of the Endoscopy Unit and I’m now doing pre-assessment and COVID-19 testing for endoscopy patients. I was asked if I’d take it on and I’ve been doing that for the last 12 weeks or so. I’ll be doing this for the foreseeable future, every patient who comes into the Hospital is now swabbed for COVID-19. In taking on a new role, I’ve been asking lots of questions and I’ve definitely noticed lots of camaraderie around the Hospital. People are more than willing to help you out.

What makes John and Lizzie’s stand out from the crowd? I’d say that because it’s a standalone hospital you can get things done quickly. There is less bureaucracy and a personal touch to the way things are done. That definitely shows through in the responses to our patient satisfaction surveys which always pay tribute to our high standards. Our Hospice, which is so well staffed, is loved by patients and staff alike and, regardless of denomination, many people like that we have a chapel on site.

Keep checking back each month for more updates in our Hospital Heroes series.

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