Nurses Day 'hero': Dialysis nurse steps up in blackout

April 2015 Vol 15 (2)

The hero nomination of home dialysis nurse Sue Patience is the result of her dedicated support of patients caught by last year’s Auckland power outage and her earlier work for evacuated Christchurch earthquake dialysis patients.

Sue Patience

All Sue Patience ever wanted to be was a nurse. She bought nursing books at school, cared for animals knocked over on the road, and had a potentially hazardous encounter with a candle as she pretended to be Florence Nightingale.

Patience started her nursing career in 1976 and has spent the past 15 years working in renal services, most recently nursing at Auckland District Health Board's Home Haemodialysis Unit at Greenlane Clinical Centre, where she trains and supports patients to use dialysis equipment safely at home.

In October 2014, widespread power outages hit Auckland.

“I was on call that day and I’m sure I did what any other of my colleagues would have done in that situation,” she says.

Knowing the disruption the power outage would mean to patients using home dialysis, Patience made every effort to find any available space to support dialysis patients who had lost power at home, as well as continuing the training and support for patients already in the unit “Of course, we didn’t know how long the power would be out for, so I made the space available for those who needed it urgently, and it really gave them peace of mind.”

Patience had previous experience to call upon, having helped patients evacuated from Christchurch during the earthquakes.

“I advocated hard to maintain after-hours dialysis and support for these patients. It was a traumatising
time and lots of patients needed urgent help dialysing.

“I still see some of the patients, who pop in if they’re passing through Auckland. The renal population is
very embracing, they’re a very strong group and I have much admiration for them.”

Patience was also awarded Auckland DHB’s Local Hero award last October after being nominated by a patient.

“There are so many wonderful things that I can describe about Sue,” said the patient. “She is so amazing, so caring, loving and giving of herself. She is very accurate and there are no shortcuts when doing her job.

“When I first started at the Home Haemodialysis Unit, Sue taught me the machine, helped me with the troubleshooting and I nearly always got her on the 24hr helpline we have. I love her; she has made my life worth living.”

In the short time she has been in the role, Jenkins has multiplied the number of advanced and basic resuscitation training sessions offered on the West Coast.

She has also established and chaired a multidisciplinary Resuscitation Committee, is supporting a growing team of instructors developing the DHB’s first CPR policy and associated procedures, and is conducting the first DHB-wide audit of emergency equipment and checking practices.

Another initiative she is involved in is creating a system for reviewing clinical emergencies, and she is also working to tailor any initiatives to evolving models of care.

Last year, Jenkins successfully completed her Master of Nursing with distinction, during which she explored the experiences of internationally qualified nurses who had transitioned into New Zealand and were working as registered nurses in aged care. While studying, Jenkins spent some

time working in the Office of the Chief Nurse on workforce issues associated with international nurses.


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