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International Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Published:  13 May 2020

Nurses and midwives are with us from the moment we are born, through to our end-of-life care. ‘Here then, here now, here always’ celebrates 200 years of constant and compassionate care from nurses and midwives to women, patients and their families. Meet some of our staff and patients as they share their stories about the profound difference nurses and midwives have made to their lives.

Anthony - International year of the nurse and midwife“I was at home when I got the call. ‘Doc, a lady is giving birth. We don’t have time to get her to the mainland.’ I was 24 years old, in my second year as a junior and the only doctor on Magnetic Island. My birthing experience was the five mandatory sessions we do in medical school. This time, it was on me. It wasn’t far from the quarters to the clinic, but it was one of the longest drives of my life. When I arrived, the lady was being cared for by a nurse and a midwife. They had all the equipment laid out should things go wrong. Their calmness, humanity and ability radiated outwards. Mum was calm. I was calm. They delivered the baby. I did very little. I’ll never forget that moment, that nurse, that midwife and that beautiful baby girl. Soon I’ll sit the test to become a consultant, but I’ll never forget the nurses and midwives who guided me through the early stages of my career.”

- Dr Anthony Strickland, emergency medicine registrar

Megan - International year of the nurse and midwife“In November 2017, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Over the next seven months he was admitted to hospital twice, and that was when we met a kind oncology nurse. I shared with this nurse my dream of becoming a nurse, too. He showed me the equipment used to treat people with cancer and explained to me how it worked. In October 2018, my dad was admitted to hospital for the last time. The cancer had spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes, heart and brain. On 9 November 2018, we had to say goodbye. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Six months after my dad died, we went book shopping and the oncology nurse we had become close with walked into the shop. It was a big surprise but so nice to see him again. Twelve months after my dad died we saw the nurse again, this time at a different shop and another nice surprise. The oncology nurses at Townsville University Hospital have impacted me not just because my dad died, but because of the people I met along the way. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have realised how much I want to help people. They also taught me a lot about the hospital and what it’s like to work there. They have encouraged me to make a change, which is why when I’m an adult I want to be a paediatric oncology nurse and find a cure for cancer.”

- Megan Heald, Year 8

Coralee - - International year of the nurse and midwife“All the nurses I’ve been in contact with in my life, in my family’s life, particularly through my journey with breast cancer and the recent birth of my daughter’s second baby, have been extraordinary. Being told you have cancer forces you to face your own mortality. I remember being at Townsville University Hospital, scared and overwhelmed, and then my nurses, these wonderful, compassionate people came in and said, ‘this is what this means for you, this is how we are going to support you’. They let me take a breath. During my time at the hospital, I could see the nurses were busy, I could see they were under pressure but none of that came through when they were looking after their patients. When they were with me, they were totally with me. I congratulate the nurses and midwives of Townsville University Hospital and thank them for their compassion and care from the bottom of my heart.”

- Coralee O’Rourke MP, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors

Gareth- International year of the nurse and midwife‘They are so much easier to look after as a newborn than when they are two’, Gareth Arena said with a smile. From a park bench at Rowes Bay, Gareth watches as son Rixon liberates a nearby traffic cone and single-handily closes the beach. Rixon was born to surrogate mother Jessica Brockie in the early hours of January 20, 2018 at Townsville University Hospital. Jess had agreed to carry Rixon because Gareth’s wife Bec couldn’t due to cystic fibrosis. Heartbreakingly, Bec died before Rixon was born. Gareth said in retrospect he realised how much support Jess’s midwife provided, not just to her, but to him as well. “Our midwife was with Jess from about midday, at Rixon’s birth at 2am and we didn’t leave hospital until 9am. That whole time she was with us, she didn’t leave, she didn’t go anywhere, and after we went home, she went and helped another mother give birth. I love midwives.”

- Gareth Arena, husband and father

Danny - International year of the nurse and midwife“In my 12 years at the Townsville HHS, I’ve worked alongside so many compassionate nurses and midwives. I’ve seen fear dissolve through simple words of kindness when a frightened teenager is brought to the operating theatre. I’ve seen the joy on a woman’s face at the end of a long labour when she turns to her midwife, and triumphantly says ‘we did it’. I’ve worked with midwives who are passionate about antenatal care and helping women be informed and an active part of the decisions that influence and change their lives. I see our organisation’s values in midwifery leadership, and our staff guided through difficult situations with kindness and empathy. I’ve seen a commitment to quality of care and watched new leaders grow. The International Day of the Midwife is a time to take a moment, to acknowledge and thank our colleagues who support women and families through one of the most challenging, yet empowering, times of their life. We love your work!”

- Dr Danny Tucker, staff specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist, and director of clinical training

Guan - International year of the nurse and midwife“One of the biggest privileges of my life has been working at Townsville University Hospital’s neonatal unit alongside our incredible neonatal nurses. I often tell parents that having worked in large neonatal units in London, Oxford, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sydney, and Canberra, I can confidently say that our neonatal nurses are as good as, if not better than, the nurses in all those places. I often get feedback from parents saying our nurses made them feel safe, and that they knew their baby was in the best possible hands. With the closest neonatal unit more than 1,400km away our unit can get extremely busy, and it is then that our nurses really shine. That shine comes from their unique DNA of embracing high-functioning teamwork and family-integrated care. Our nurses capture with pride the spirit of our neonatal intensive care unit every day when they walk through our doors. In the neonatal unit, we all work together like a pair of chopsticks. The neonatal management team salutes and thanks all the nurses in the neonatal unit. Happy and safe International Nurses Day! ”

- Professor Guan Koh, director neonatology

Nicola- International year of the nurse and midwife“I have a long history of working as a registered nurse for Townsville University Hospital (then Townsville General Hospital) after beginning my nursing training in 1983. My mother and her nursing friends inspired me to become a nurse. Growing up, I loved to hear their nursing stories, some funny, some sad, and some poignant. So, it was only natural that I followed in my mother’s footsteps to nursing. For most of my 24 years as a nurse, I worked in cardio-thoracic care which I loved and had an affinity for. For the past three years I’ve been working as an organiser for the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU). I am very proud to work with, and represent, nurses of all levels in this very exciting hospital and health service. I also really admire the entire health team here, including the rural hospitals who have superbly planned their Covid-19 response. It has held this region in very good stead. I am also honoured to work alongside our dedicated QNMU delegates and reps who are not only excellent nurses and midwives, but always uphold our union values. They all deserve my accolades, and I wish them, and all nurses and midwives, a very healthy and happy International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day 2020.”

- Nicola de Jongh, local organiser, QNMU

Trevor- International year of the nurse and midwife“With my own health journey, I have always found nurses to be selfless people. Eleven years ago, I had an open-heart surgery to clear three blocked arteries. Before that time, I was a healthy man so I didn’t know about being in hospital; I can say confidently it was the nurses that were there throughout the whole process. Doctors came and went but nurses were there at the coalface. My elderly father is a renal dialysis patient at Townsville University Hospital, and I admire the nurses who care for him. It’s not just the clinical side, it’s the care and understanding they offer him and the way they nurture him. One Sunday earlier this year I was at Coles and saw an Aboriginal man on the ground with severe chest pain to the point where he was vomiting. There was a lady who was there at his side comforting him. While many people stood and watched, she stayed at his side until the ambulance arrived. She was an off-duty nurse. It is these personal experiences that made me realise the love and care nurses have for people. It made me realise nurses can make or break the patient experience and even a person’s day.”

- Trevor Prior, cultural practice coordinator

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