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    Celebrating our nurses

    On Sunday we will celebrate International Nurses Day, an important day in the calendar to reflect on the incredible impact our nurses have on patients’ lives and the health of our community.

    At Medibank, we employ more than 600 nurses through our Amplar Health business who deliver care in the home, via telehealth, through apps, and by the bedside.

    This year, the theme for International Nurses Day is ‘Our Nurses, Our Future’, an appropriate theme as we see the practice of nursing evolve and we embrace new care settings outside of hospitals. Traditionally nurses were always bedside in hospitals but now many are the clinical face behind the digital interaction patients may have on an app, the friendly face on the end of a video call or the comfort at a patient’s bedside in their very own home.

    In celebration of Nurses Day, our CEO David Koczkar sat down with Amplar nurse Brett Robertson. Telehealth nurse Brett was working from his home in southern Queensland when Medibank customer Dianne called the Medibank 24/7 Nurse line from the other side of the country in Bunbury, WA. Dianne was in some serious trouble when she first spoke with Brett.

    Brett, a few weeks ago Nine’s A Current Affair organised for you to meet Dianne, it’s not often that our telehealth nurses get to meet one of their callers. Can you tell us about that call and what it was like to meet Dianne afterwards?

    Dianne accidently called the 24/7 Nurse line, thinking she was returning a call from Medibank about her recent hospital stay.

    Upon answering the call and greeting Dianne, I noticed she was short of breath. Our job as triage nurses is to access the whole environment, I could hear Dianne’s husband in the background, when I asked how Dianne was I could hear him say, ‘she isn’t okay’.

    I decided I wanted to commence an urgent assessment of her current medical condition, she made it clear she didn’t want to return to hospital and would rather see her cardiologist in a few days time.

    But, as I took a deeper dive into her medical history, there were some red flags, I was concerned her diagnosis had deteriorated since her discharge. Listening to her breathing worsen, I was adamant she needed an ambulance. After some convincing, Dianne accepted a transfer to hospital, she was in a bad way and required intensive care.

    Meeting Dianne was amazing. After 10 years in my telehealth role with Medibank I have never met anyone face to face. It was also humbling to meet Dianne’s son Anthony and realise the impact you can have on a whole family. Anthony said to me ‘Mate, if you hadn’t done what you did I wouldn’t have had her at my 50th- you gave me back my mum, thank you.”

    What you have done is truly incredible, you didn’t just solve a problem, you really changed the course of one of our customers lives, thank you. You’ve been with Medibank for 10 years. That’s some serious dedication….

    I have really seen the Medibank family grow since I started and the role of technology expanding the services nurses can deliver. Meeting Dianne was a highlight of my career, but I have also really enjoyed watching the impact this story has had within Medibank and for my fellow nurses. Its given them a boost, shining a light on what nurses do and the impact we have on patients around the country. It makes me proud of being a nurse and what we do as nurses but I only really did everything my fellow nurses would have done once they realised they had a caller in distress.

    You’ve been a nurse for over 40 years, starting in 1983 in Brisbane. What inspired you to become a nurse?

    I was always one of those kids that wanted to help people. When I was growing up, there was a TV show called Emergency! which was about firefighters working as paramedics in the US. It inspired me.

    I was also influenced by some army nurses and medics I met when I was in the army cadets at high school, it cemented my career choice by the time I was in Grade 11. I did work experience as a nurse at QE II Hospital in Brisbane and I ended up working there years later in the Emergency Department.

    I was lucky enough to get accepted into the Royal Brisbane Hospital as a student nurse and after my first year of training, I joined the Army Reserve as a medical assistant at the 2nd Field Hospital in Brisbane. The army were really ahead of their time, some of the first to deliver great care to patients utilising technology.

    I also owned some of my own health businesses and worked as an agency nurse for a short time.

    What does a typical work day look like for you?

    I try to sign in about 20 minutes early to get set up. As I work split shifts, I usually hit the ground running early with my first call. This allows me time to stretch and go outside if the weather permits. The flexibility of split shifts allows me to get normal tasks at home done in between my daily workload. I feel so fortunate to be in a role I'm so passionate about.

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