Carbonear nurse earns Eastern Health safety award

Melissa Jenkins
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Heather Clarke's dedication pays off with prestigious recognition

Caring, friendly and helpful are just a few words that many people attribute to registered nurses.

Eastern Health 2014 CEO's award for safety went to Heather Clarke, a registered nurse at the Carbonear General Hospital.

Heather Clarke, a registered nurse at Carbonear General Hospital, fits that description.

Clarke began her 26-year career at that same hospital, and has worked in several different departments during that time, including medicine, surgery, pediatrics and occasionally the intensive care unit (ICU). Her 11 years in the emergency department has lead to her receiving a prestigious safety award from Eastern Health this past week.

On June 11, Clarke and 55 other nominees (individual and group) were invited to attend the fourth annual Eastern Health’s CEO awards banquet. The winners were announced as the awards were handed out, live.

That moment before her name was called, Clarke was very nervous.

A very modest woman with a friendly personality, Clarke doesn’t like any type of individual attention. But, after the winner was announced, she walked up on the stage and accepted the award graciously.

“I was shocked,” she said during an interview with The Compass in her Carbonear home June 16. “I was just sitting there when they announced my name, and I just couldn’t believe it.”

Although she doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlight, Clarke said she believes it’s important to emphasize the achievements of those she works with, as well as those within Eastern Health, and rightfully so. She explained she is the first recipient of a CEO award from Carbonear General Hospital.

The award

Clarke earned a trophy and a certificate in the safety category, which is described below.

“(The nominee) shows an understanding for safety practices, demonstrates a commitment to safety at all time through her work practices and by participating in training opportunities and education sessions. Shows an understanding of safety practices within a specific workplace setting or on an organization-wide basis; achieves visibility regarding safety issues.”

These are qualities Clarke sees as important in her profession, especially since quality care is a priority.

Clarke has been a member of many committees over her time at Carbonear Hospital, and her most recent endeavours have added to a list of her deserving characteristics.

The LEAN committee, a committee that assists in making the emergency department more efficient (see details here: http://www.easternhealth.ca/WebInWeb.aspx?d=2&id=1572&p=1032), is one Clarke is especially proud of.

The committee is still new and have met once, but Clarke and another coworker engage in discussion and plan on implementing changes in the department soon.

Clarke is also the Carbonear Hospital representative for the Public Health Agency of Canada, where she collects data from patients that arrive at the emergency department with an injury. It is voluntary.

She is also the workplace representative for the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The pre-admission and pain clinic team at Carbonear hospital was also nominated for an award — the team excellence award. The Aria implementation team with the cancer care program won that category.

Personal care

Clarke believes a very important part of her job is the dedication to patients and their families.

“Emerge everyday is rewarding,” she explained. “Seeing that we’re helping people and we’re doing a good job is rewarding.”

It has been 11 years since she began working in the department, but it is not a monotonous job.

“It’s a very busy department,” Clarke said. “It can be frustrating at times, but we just try to do the best we can. It’s great when we see some of the good we can do.

When asked what was one event that stood out in her mind, she said there were many.

“A lot of cases I could even tell you what they were wearing when they came in,” she smiled.

Due to confidentiality and privacy reasons, she couldn’t provide details.

She is planning on maintaining her position with the department, noting there is always an injury or illness coming in that she hasn’t seen in a long time.

“Everyday is a new day,” Clarke said. “And everyday is a learning experience.”

Melissa.jenkins@tc.tc

Organizations: Carbonear Hospital, The Compass, LEAN committee Public Health Agency of Canada Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Carbonear

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