Nurse and Midwife of the Year– Hesta Awards
A nurse who works to improve care for patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions; and a midwife dedicated to delivering culturally safe maternity care- these were the winners of the latest HESTA Nursing & Midwifery Awards. Congratulations!
Nurse of the Year
Plastic Surgery Unit, Monash Health
Tania Green was recognised for her work to improve care for patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions and their families, supporting more than 500 patients as the clinical nurse coordinator for Monash Health’s Cleft and Craniofacial Unit.
Ms Green said she was surprised and delighted to have been announced as the 2020 Nurse of the Year, which she said would help put a spotlight on the Monash Children’s Hospital cleft team, and their patients and families.
Tania has been nursing for 25 years and says the profession has given her an opportunity to work across a broad range of settings and continually develop her knowledge.
She’s worked at Monash Health for the past 16 years, spending a decade within the Plastic Surgery Unit, and the last five years coordinating the Cleft and Craniofacial Unit.
“Nursing is more than just a job for me, it is a part of who I am,” she said.
“Cleft lip and palate are the most common congenital deformity and we support over 500 patients in our service.”
Ms Green has been instrumental in improving awareness of the treatment and care required for cleft-affected babies, including developing protocols that have increased the education and confidence of staff involved in their care, and working with the special care nursery and neonatal staff.
Midwife of the Year
Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service & Griffith University
Cassandra Nest is recognised for her dedication to improving the delivery of culturally safe, quality maternity care to more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Gold Coast, particularly through the implementation of the Waijungbah Jarjums Service.
Ms Nest, who is a proud Ngunnawal woman and the first Aboriginal woman to join the midwifery group practice at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), said she was grateful and honoured to be named as the 2020 Midwife of the Year.
“Midwifery is my calling, it is what I was meant to be doing. This is more than just a job to me, this is my life, and the lives of my community,” she said.
“I am these women, the women are my family, my culture, their babies are our future ancestors and I am a part of the community whose experiences I am dedicated to improving.”
Ms Nest was instrumental in setting up GCUH’s Waijungbah Jarjums Service, an innovative maternity health service that provides care and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with care delivered by First Peoples midwives and nurses. She was also the first Aboriginal woman to complete the Bachelor of Midwifery at Griffith University, where she now mentors and supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery students.
Improving Health in regional communities
In a recent article published by the Australian College of Nurses, they spoke to Ben Ben Chiarella MACN — a member of our Men in Nursing Working Party based in Orange, New South Wales (NSW) — in the lead up to International Nurses Day 2020.
Ben’s journey into the nursing profession started in his 30s after switching from a career in the corporate world.
“I was following the dollars over a sense of purpose in my work,” he says.
“I reached a point where I wanted to have a career that had more intrinsic value. I looked around at a lot of industries that might appeal, and I kept coming back to health. What I was so interested in was the breadth and scope a career in nursing can offer. There is a human element to what we do in nursing and that was what interested me so much; it wasn’t just about a bottom line or bonus.”
This career change saw Ben move to do his new graduate year at Orange Base Hospital and ending in emergency his progression then led him to work in the community and aged care health sector.
“I currently have a dual-factor role,” he says.
“I am the NSW manager for aged and community services at LiveBetter, an organisation dedicated to providing community care to regional and remote areas of Australia. I also run a remote telehealth home monitoring service and a nurse telephone service for Regional Australians. This is a proactive model of nurse-run engagement through phone-based services.”
Ben is particularly proud to be able to contribute to improving the health of Regional Australians in his role.
“Regional Australians have worse health outcomes and have to manage travelling large distances to health and care services,” he says.
“They are a high-risk and underserviced demographic. There is such a need for nursing and community care across Regional Australia and as a nurse, you can have such a positive impact on this cohort by delivering good quality care services.”
When asked for his perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben highlighted it has created a unique opportunity to transform the delivery of health care in Australia towards nurse-led models.
“There is a real opportunity to leverage the work we have done as nurses during COVID-19 and use it to drive fundamental change in the health care sector,” he says.
“Lots of work previously was done at the crisis point in hospital settings. What COVID-19 has done is expand the focus to keeping patients away from the hospital. This creates an opportunity for nurses to be at the centre of care in the community and aged care settings.”
Ben also stressed the importance of sharing the good stories throughout the pandemic, particularly those of nurses and health and community workers who have gone above-and-beyond in these difficult circumstances.
“Many stories in the media are negative, such as the early COVID Panic around hording and I don’t think we have published enough stories of people doing remarkable acts of kindness,” he says.
“Despite all these risks and challenges, health workers have still laced up their shoes and gone to work and that’s incredible. Across the world, people are dying and the last one holding their hand is a nurse. These acts of kindness occur every day and I am so proud of our profession and count myself lucky to call myself a nurse,” he says.