Our Heroes: Celebrate our frontline staff this International Day of the Nurse
Nurses and midwives are often the unsung heroes of the community, there during the best and worst times for Tamworth residents. But no matter how hard the job gets "their passion is always there" said one of Tamworth's leading nurses on International Day of the Nurse. Michelle Keir, the Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Tamworth Hospital, said the staff she works with go above and beyond every day to make sure all their patients are comfortable and looked after. Ms Keir said she "fell into nursing" 25 years ago, but has always had a passion for helping people. "I progressed through the ranks, and my background was intensive care nursing," she said. "Now I am the leader, I suppose, so I play a pivotal role with my team to ensure that we are up to date with education and research. "I love the Tamworth community, it's a great one to be in." After more than 20 years one the job, one story, in particular, stands out. "A turning point for me was when we had a patient in our intensive care unit for 112 days," Ms Weir said. "We worked with this patient and his family in such a way special way, they become like family - thy still bring Christmas cards by. "It was so nice to see this man's journey and see him survive." Ms Weir said the staff made sure to connect with the family, and also add personal touches to encourage him in his recovery whether it was a friendly conversation or organise the viewing of the Rabbitohs grand final game. "I teared up when he finally was able to leave the facility to go back home," she said. "He was so grateful to the nurses and the little things they did to make it better." With the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Keir said it is essential that nurses - and other health staff - feel supported by the community. "From Tamworth and our sector, there is about 1500 to 2000 nurses and midwives that work across our community," she said. "It's the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale. This is our opportunity to celebrate the incredible work that our nurses and midwives do. "They are on the clock 24/7, they are away from their families, and they are absolutely committed ... I think they are leaders." The COVID-19 crisis has certainly proved challenging in some ways Ms Weir said, but it's a challenge the frontline staff have taken up without question. "We have done a lot of preparation, we have taken key lessons from other countries, and I think we are in for the long haul," she said. "We have maintained that compassion, and recognition that families, carers and partners are important, so we have worked out different ways to have them around by using Skype." There are more than 50,000 Nurses, and Midwives in NSW Health's hospitals and services, and they provide safe, quality care for the people of NSW. They are the 'Healing Hearts' of the community. To support this critical initiative, blue and purple hearts, representing the colours of nursing and midwifery, will pop up in hospital/s and health services throughout Hunter New England Local Health District, in the form of stickers, posters and postcards. Staff and the community are encouraged to post pictures of themselves wearing the stickers on social media, using the hashtags #everyperson and #exceptionalcare. The Healing Heart postcards provide a way to recognise and thank nurses and midwives for their unique contribution.