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Nurses and midwives celebrated amidst coronavirus crisis

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Canberra’s nurses and midwives have been celebrated with the 2020 Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards on International Nurses Day today, Tuesday 12 May.

The Team of the Year award went to Canberra Hospital Emergency Department nurses Britt Shephard and Shannon Narracott, for their work with suicide prevention and education.  

Nurse of the Year was awarded to University of Canberra Hospital clinical nurse consultant Christopher Harris, who leads up the Stromlo Ward.

Midwife of the Year was awarded to Kathy Coonan, a neonatal midwife at Calvary Public Hospital who was instrumental in setting up the Newborn and Parent Support Service at Canberra Hospital in the mid 1990s.

“This year’s award recipients, as nominated by their peers, demonstrate the highest standards within their winning categories,” said ACT Health’s chief nursing and midwifery officer, Anthony Dombkins.

“The skill, compassion, dedication and commitment to the health industry requires the highest of praise – these winners are great role models to the profession.”

The awards come as health professionals around the globe face the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontline. ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it is timely to acknowledge the contribution of nurses and midwives as leaders, innovators, and health care advocates.

“As we face the challenges of COVID-19, nurses and midwives across our health system have not wavered in their commitment to delivering high quality, person-centred health care,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“During this public health emergency, when people are at their most vulnerable, we appreciate their work now more than ever.”

Federal secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Annie Butler, said the critical importance of nurses’ work has “never been clearer”.

“The desire to help and the courage and compassion of nurses on the frontline doing the best for their communities have been demonstrated in every country across the world,” she said.

“Nurses’ extraordinary commitment and dedication for those in their care has definitely been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what we’re seeing in these extraordinary times is in fact what nurses, and midwives and care-workers, do every day, in every circumstance, for those in their care. Nursing is always extraordinary work, but in normal times, it is often less visible.”

The full list of the ACT 2020 Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Award recipients is as follows:

  • Nurse of the Year: Christopher Harris
  • Midwife of the Year: Kathy Coonan
  • Team of the Year: Britt Shephard and Shannon Narracott
  • Excellence in Quality Improvement and Research Practice: Nikki Johnston, a Nurse Practitioner at Clare Holland House who specialises in palliative care
  • Excellence in Leadership Practice: Heather Needham, Senior Manager of Patient Experience, Canberra Health Services
  • Excellence in Management Practice: Mercy Lukose, Clinical Nurse Consultant Ward 11B, Canberra Health Services
  • Excellence in Educational Practice: Rachel Bilton-Simek, Palliative Care Educator, Clare Holland House
  • Excellence in Clinical Practice: The Ward 11A team who specialise in care of the elderly, Canberra Health Services

The World Health Organization has declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

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