Our staff stories

Celebrating staff stories at #Teamgesh

We’re celebrating our staff in a series of stories from across gesh – our hospital Group.

We’ll introduce you to a different star of the show each week, hearing about the difference they make to our patients and communities, and how they are unique.

This week we hear from Kristy Parrack, Health Play Specialist at ESTH.

Kirsty Parrack

“I love supporting patients to make their time in hospital as positive as possible.”   

Qualifying as a health play specialist has been my career highlight, because it’s such a rewarding role. I love supporting children and young people, as well as their families and carers, to make their stays in hospital less daunting and as positive as possible. 

“Part of my role involves preparing young patients for their hospital stay by talking through the process ahead. Supporting children to be more resilient is so important to me - especially during long-term or repeat stays. My team also uses distraction when patients are undergoing sometimes painful procedures, and we use play to aid with their recovery from illness or surgery. 

“Working with the wider play team, I’ve helped make major improvements to the hospital, such as creating the wonderful sensory garden. As a team, we regularly organise events, including marking Play in Hospital Week where we celebrate the magic of play in healthcare. 

“Outside of work, I embrace my creative side - I love making personalised cards, gifts and decorations for my family and friends.” 

Nana Jenkins, Security Operations Manager at ESTH

“Working in hospital security, you never know what each day will bring.”

staff story nana jenkins

“I came to the UK from Ghana in 2018 and started working as a security guard at Epsom and St Helier in 2019. I worked hard, became a security supervisor and now I’m Operations Manager. We are a diverse workforce that reflects our communities. 

“Working in hospital security, you never know what each day will bring. Often, we are not needed but by being there, we quietly offer reassurance. As a team, we strive to maintain a calm working atmosphere for staff and therefore benefit patient wellbeing.  

“I enjoy helping patients with mental health needs. I make sure I build a rapport with them by taking the time to listen, so they understand I'm here to help. The training I’ve received as a mental health first-aider is invaluable in these situations. 

“I love to read - Paul Grzegorzek, a security team colleague at ESTH who writes books in his spare time, is my favourite author! During my days off, I head into nature to pursue one of my passions - photography. I also enjoy painting and spending quality time with my loved ones.” 

Rhia staff story

Maria Fernandez, Lead Nurse for Renal Transplant, at St George’s

“Some days, it’s hard to believe that ‘Rhia from the Philippines’ has done all this”

“Matrons and sisters from St George’s came to the Philippines in 2000 to talk to nurses interested in working for the NHS. I was interviewed, and soon after came to London to be a dialysis nurse.

“My mum was worried when I left as it was my first time away from home. I had to learn how to cook, do laundry – all those things – but said I would try it for two years and could go home if I wasn’t happy. I’ve been working at St George’s ever since – 24 years, and I have loved every day.

“I always wanted to work in the renal department. I’ve gone from working as an Adaptation Nurse all the way to being the Lead Nurse for renal transplant.

“I’ve been supported to progress in my career and work on projects that have improved patient care. Making sure patients get the best treatment is important to me – like developing an electronic referral system for transplant work up that may be adopted nationally.

“Some days, it’s hard to believe that it’s ‘Rhia from the Philippines’ who has done all this. But St George’s gave me the confidence. Winning this year’s Renal Nurse of the Year award was not just about me, it’s for everyone in the renal team. We are a family always striving to deliver outstanding care.”

Kristina Middleton, Health and Wellbeing Lead at St George’s

This week we hear from Kristina Middleton, Health and Wellbeing Lead at St George’s.

Kristina Middleton staff story portrait external

“Staff work hard caring for our patients and need to know there is someone there to support them”

“Our staff work incredibly hard delivering care for our patients and as a Health and Wellbeing Lead, I help to make sure our staff are cared for too. Colleagues can work long shifts in challenging circumstances and need to know someone is there to support them.

“Throughout the cost of living crisis, we were able to offer staff free food onsite and signpost them to local charities to help them get long-term support.

“But support can also be patients appreciating the difference staff make to their experience in hospital. Last year, we introduced Acts of Kindness awards based on patient and staff feedback that recognises the lasting impression positive staff action has in delivering care and creating a supportive working environment.

“Those receiving an award felt seen and appreciated, encouraging them to stay working for the Group. We will never be able to capture all of the kind acts taking place in our hospitals, but I am really glad we were able to spotlight some and reward people and teams praised by our patients.

“Some may say it’s an unusual hobby – but I’m doing a Ph.D. with Erasmus University Rotterdam on weekends, researching how people use available flexible working arrangements and the impact it has on individuals and organisations.”

Dionne Daniel, Director of Nursing - Fundamentals of Care

This week we hear from Dionne Daniel, Director of Nursing – Fundamentals of Care at ESTH.

Dionne Daniel quote card

"Helping people is very important to me – even more important than Arsenal."

“It’s been quite the journey to get to where I am now. Growing up in Trinidad, I wanted to be a nun. It wasn’t right for me though so I trained to be a nurse. A friend wanted to come to England – not me - but I said I’d come too. Then my friend stayed in Trinidad.

“I remember arriving in England so clearly. It was 27 November 1998, and it was grey and cold - not like Trinidad at all. I was only going to stay for a year and then move on to Australia or America. However, I stayed because I loved it here.

“Being Director of Nursing for Fundamentals of Care covers a lot of ground. Every day, I get to work with amazing colleagues to make sure patient safety is a priority, and meet staff in their own environment during walkabouts – there is so much to see, I could happily be there all day.

“I’m an Ambassador for the Cavell Trust, a charity that helps nurses, and is very close to my heart. I’ve been raising funds for them since 2017, including only hopping, skipping, and jumping for the whole of August.

“My faith and helping people are very important to me – even more important than Arsenal. In February 2010, I became one of the first street pastors in Eastbourne, and the first team outside of London, to care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets at night.”

Mary Willocks, Maternity Inpatient Matron

This week we’re introducing you to Mary Willocks, Maternity Inpatient Matron at Epsom Hospital.

Mary Willock Teamgesh quote

Being at the birth of a much longed-for baby is always amazing and a privilege"

“I never want to lose my clinical skills and feel very lucky to be able to deliver care to our women and birthing people while managing my amazing team.

“I’ve been a midwife for 27 years and there have been a lot of memorable moments. Every delivery is special but being at the birth of a much longed-for baby is always an amazing moment and I feel very privileged to be a part of that.

“I’ve taken part in quite a few endurance walks, and in 2018 I walked around the Isle of Wight non-stop, a total of 106km, which took 38 hours. I walked with a group of midwives and together we raised £7,500 for the Triage Unit at St Helier.”

Deborah Gouveia, Senior Quality Improvement Advisor and QI Programme Lead 

This International Women’s Day, we’re introducing you to Deborah Gouveia, Senior Quality Improvement Advisor and QI Programme Lead at ESTH.

Debbie Gouveia quote card

“Letting people know how valued they are is so important. It’s something I’ve always done.”

“My grandfather was a pharmacist in Guyana, South America. Everyone called him ‘the medicine man’. I thought that sounded really exciting, so at 15 I did work experience on the chemist counter at Boots and ended up a qualified pharmacist – my first NHS role.

“Now I help improve the care we give to patients, and I love it. I’m proud to lead our Improvement Practitioner Programme, working with our fantastic leaders. I see myself as a super-connector – bringing people together to share skills and knowledge and make our care better.

“Letting people know how valued they are is so important, and it can make them want to improve. It’s something I’ve always done.

“My colleagues know about my love for quality improvement, but not that I absolutely love Guns N' Roses and Spurs. It was a dream come true when GNR was the first band to play at Spurs’ home ground White Hart Lane. I was there loving the sun and the sounds.”

Joana Lopes Gomes, Adult Safeguarding Clinical Nurse Specialist

Our first story is from Joana Lopes Gomes, Adult Safeguarding Clinical Nurse Specialist, who works at St George’s.

Joana teamgesh quote

“Being a nurse requires clinical expertise, but also the warmth and empathy of a fellow human being.”

"In adult safeguarding, our purpose is protecting and supporting those who are unable to do so themselves. We sometimes encounter difficult and distressing situations, but I’m thankful for every single person that has been referred to us. Lots of teams come together to make these patients’ lives more dignified.

"Being a nurse requires clinical expertise, but also the warmth and empathy of a fellow human being – with all the emotions that accompany it. When I was a ward nurse, a patient with cancer receiving end-of-life care started telling me her deepest thoughts. It was a true rewind through the years, from someone who was trying to wrap up a whole lifetime of memories – from proudest moments to regrets. I could not hold my tears back as I listened to her, and we ended up crying together. Before I left the room, the lady asked me for a hug. This happened quite a few years ago – but it still touches me deeply.

"It may surprise people to know that I didn’t have experience in adults safeguarding before I became a clinical nurse specialist. There are no limits to what nurses can achieve in the NHS. Skills can be learned, and there are always amazing opportunities out there."

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