Outstanding nurses honoured

Thursday, 24th May, 2018

Award winners Mim O'Flynn, Gail Yarran and Veronique Murphy.

A WA nurse who has dedicated her life to improving health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, a Queensland team which developed a mobile clinic for people with liver disease and a Victorian graduate nurse who enhanced the care experience of patients with difficulty communicating have won national nursing awards.

The 2018 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards recognise the work of nurses, midwives, educators, researchers and personal care workers across three categories - Nurse or Midwife of the Year, Outstanding Graduate and Team Excellence.

Alfred Health nurse Veronique Murphy from Melbourne was named Outstanding Graduate for developing a record-keeping process to help patients, such as those with dementia, who have difficulty communicating.

She came up with a 'patient preferences prompt sheet' to log patient likes, dislikes and interests to make sure vital non-clinical information can be easily shared between staff.

"The more we know about the patients, the more easily we can guide them through the times when they're struggling to communicate," said Veronique.

"The sheet was designed to help the patients on our ward who can't communicate properly, whether they are experiencing delirium or have dementia. It helps patients with the 'little things', making them feel safer and more comfortable whilst in the medical environment".

The 'Kombi Clinic' was awarded for its mobile medical clinic providing life-saving treatments to people living with hepatitis C across South East Queensland.

The clinic is a one-stop-shop for hepatitis C testing, treatment, and information and is run by a team of health professionals including nurse Mim O'Flynn.

Mim said the clinic is different to other services because it brings medical care directly to people who are most vulnerable.

"We go to areas in the community helping people that we've identified that are of great need, this could be those who are disenfranchised or homeless, and we work in different locations like around alcohol and drug services as well as on the street."

Gail Yarran from Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service in East Perth, was awarded for her work in improving and advocating for better delivery of health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Western Australia.

With a nursing career spanning more than 50 years, Gail has established herself as a prominent Aboriginal health care leader and nurse ambassador holding multiple advisory roles, as well as developing clinical research projects and pilot programs to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Gail said she was inspired to become a registered nurse and pursue a career helping people when she was a child.

"When I was in school the teacher asked the class 'what would you like to be when you leave school?", I said I'd like to be a nurse and the whole class laughed and made fun of me. This stuck in my heart and made me more determined, this gave me the passion," said Gail.

She said although she's been a nurse for over 50 years, there's still a lot of work to be done to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"I know I can't close the gap, but I can do my little part to make a difference," said Gail.

HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said this year's winners demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the nursing profession, continually striving to advance patient health outcomes, whilst also implementing innovative solutions to improve standards of care.

"These winners stood out from an exceptional group of finalists for their commitment to improving patient health care outcomes, and their work has had a profound impact on the lives of many Australians."

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