Nurses ready to protect

They are the team you may not know, but will protect you when in your most vulnerable state. 

The Perioperative Nurses Week was held last week, to raise awareness of the important roles these professionals play in hospitals. 

On their national day of October 12, perioperative nurses at the South East Regional Hospital had a display in the facility’s foyer and celebrated with cake – although not all could make the cake cutting as some were hard at work for an operation.

“We’re not seen by the public unless you’re having an operation, so most people wouldn’t be aware of our role,” nurse unit manager at SERH Cathy Clark said. 

“We protect patients while they are unconscious, we look after them when they are in their most vulnerable state.” 

There are many fields that the nurses in her unit work in such as day surgery, anesthetic nurses that assist the anesthetist, scrub nurses in surgery and recovery nurses who are responsible for the patient as they recover from anesthetic. 

Ms Clark said there was a 30-strong team under her in the perioperative unit that included theatre, day surgery and recovery as well as orderlies. 

“Moving here we went from two theatres, a three bay recovery and a six chair day recovery unit to now three theatres plus a procedure room, a 12 bay recovery and a 16 bay day surgery unit,” she said. 

“We average between 280 and 300 cases a month and do anywhere up to 300 [knee or hip] replacements a year which is equal to metropolitan hospitals.”

Their catchment area for orthopedics stretches from Mallacoota to Batemans Bay and east to Cooma. 

Perioperative nurse at SERH Pauline Blair has worked as a nurse for almost 40 years. She has two daughters who have followed her into the profession, including Melissa who works at the Bega hospital with her. 

When asked what it was like to work as a mother and daughter team, Pauline said it was good. 

“But I don’t know what it’s like for everyone else though!” she laughed. 

Pauline hoped the week would encourage more people to become nurses.

“It’s just great recognition of one part of nursing,” she said. 

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