NURSES who strive to make patients more comfortable are receiving acknowledgement this International Nurses Day.
Marangaroo resident Megan Jones and fellow nurse Jessica Venhuizen are two people recognised for coming up with a way to make everyday tasks easier for patients after breast cancer surgery.
The pair works on the surgical ward, Jarrah, at Mount Hospital, which often cares for patients who undergo breast surgery including the part or full removal of the breast and sometimes lymph glands.
Following surgery of this type, patients are required to have surgical drains sutured in place for several weeks to assist the body to drain fluids.
“Working on a busy surgical ward we became frustrated with the limited options our patients had to carry their surgical drains,” Miss Venhuizen said.
“If using their hands or pillow cases our patients were accidently leaving their drains on the floor and pulling on them, disconnecting them or they were falling out.”
Miss Jones said patients often used pillowcases or calico bags from a variety of sources to carry the drains while moving around or showering.
“Unfortunately these bags are often not waterproof, and sometimes not safe,” she said.
The nurses brainstormed and developed a custom, waterproof bag to carry surgical drains called the Protect Me Drain Carrier.
Since that first idea, they have developed a pitch, raised capital, spent months on product development and prototype testing, found a manufacturing company, got the product patented and trademarked, received Therapeutic Goods Authority approval for a class ‘A’ medical device and developed their own marketing material.
“We were lucky to have been granted a $20,000 innovation voucher from the WA Government to use with a company who guided us through much of this process,” Miss Venhuizen said.
They will soon start their first non-clinical trial at Mount Hospital for product refinement.
“Our aim is to get as much feedback as possible, to ensure the carrier is exactly what our patients need,” Miss Jones said.
“Once the trial is complete and any adjustments made the next step will be to take the product to market.
“The biggest challenge for us has been getting out of our nursing uniform and putting our minds to business.”
Both said nursing required a huge commitment and compassion for patients, could be emotionally exhausting and was one of the most rewarding and satisfying career paths.
THE work of Joondalup Health Campus’s Carol Pilcheris is a reminder of the importance of nurses on International Nurses Day.
Ms Pilcheris, Joondalup’s bed manager since 2006, found that there was poor communication between hospitals and aged care centres and has helped to significantly improve it.
She worked with the centres to create a communication envelope, which travels with patients to hospital and back to their aged care facilities when they are discharged.
The envelope contains important medical information and ensures continuity of treatment between the hospital and the patients’ community care.
Ms Pilcheris also developed a book that provides hospital staff with information about local aged care facilities.
In a further indication of her influence, she runs workshops with Residential Care Line nurse practitioner Carol Douglas.
The pair educates aged care workers on treatment to minimise unnecessary hospitalisations. Topics range from wound management to matters such as incontinence and prevention of falls.
Joondalup director of clinical services Ben Irish said the workshops were “absolutely invaluable”.
“The first session was held during a breakfast workshop session at the Joondalup Health Campus eight years ago for just 15 staff,” he said.
“Today this has grown to a full day workshop three times a year. At the last workshop there were more than 100 attendees.”
He said Ms Pilcheris’s work highlighted that “bridging the gap between health care professionals can profoundly enhance patient outcomes”.
Joondalup Health Campus is honouring more than 1600 nurses who make up more than 50 per cent of its workforce on May 12.