May 12 is International Nurses Day, a day to recognise the contributions our Nurses make to society. To celebrate, we took a trip down memory lane with our Director of Health Services, Josephine Naughton.
Over the years, Jo has lived in Nurses accommodation, worked as a theatre nurse and designed theatres in hospitals internationally – experience that we are privileged to have on our team at Community Gateway.
While studying Nursing, Jo trained at the War Memorial Hospital in Waverly and lived in Nurses accommodation. “Living in Nurses Home was quite a strict experience. We had curfews and rules to follow during dinner time, but we also made great friendships because we studied and lived together in close quarters.”
During her career Jo worked in Nowra for a company called Mayne Health. Mayne Health built a hospital in Surabaya, a large city on the island of Java as the nurse they had sent returned home sooner than anticipated. Jo expressed interest to take over the role, particularly because she had never been overseas before. “It was a very eye opening experience.”
Mayne Health then proceeded to build the first private hospital in Fiji - “I was lucky enough to go there and help design the theatres with the architect.” Jo worked at the hospital as the Consultant Operating Room Manager over a period of time before returning to her position in Australia.
Since, Jo’s early days of nursing the traditional role of nursing has changed dramatically. “Back then, we spent more time at the patient’s bedside than hospital nurses do today. We transferred the patients, cleaned the pans and the patients rooms as well as all the clinical roles required– there were no ward assistants to do these jobs for us.”
This also goes for the technological developments in Nursing. When Jo was working in hospitals during the 1970s, cataract surgery post-op protocol involved a patient lying flat on their back for ten days with sand bags on either side of their head so they couldn’t move. “These days, cataract procedures are day surgeries!”
Older people with fractured femurs would be put in traction for weeks, their legs out in front of them on a bed, leaving them unable to move. “There are now techniques in surgery that make that form of ‘recovery’ unnecessary.”
Today, we have five Registered Nurses across our three locations in NSW. Our nurses range in experience, bringing their own skill sets and being able to assist each other to overcome any issues that may arise. “I’m really proud of the team we are building and how the program is developing so far.”
“Aged care is the bulk of our business but disability is picking up,” says Jo. The benefit of this is that we can fill the void for clients on high level packages who are no longer able to access community nurses and help as many people as possible. “Our nurses are able to see their clients on an ongoing basis, they are more aware of their progression and whether they are doing well or not. They can gauge their health based on previous visits.”
Community Gateway providing vital nursing services has been able to assist our clients by allowing them to stay in their home longer. “That’s the goal at the end of the day. If they can be assessed in their home, we can prevent them from ageing as quickly. Some people can’t get out of their homes for appointments, wound care or insulin checks. These people would go without seeing medical professionals, so we are taking the care to them. In doing so, we want to give them preventative care to keep them living independently for as long as possible.”
Jo says that working in community based nursing is very rewarding, even after all of her experiences working overseas, in hospitals and in operating theatres. “The people are more vulnerable and quite often we are the only people that go into their homes. We make a real and lasting impact on the lives of these people. You don’t often get that rapport in hospitals.”
Our organisation is proud of the rich experience and care that Jo and our five Registered Nurses bring to our clients every day. Thank you!