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2016 Mater Long Service Awards

Thursday, 29 September 2016

2016 Mater Long Service Awards

Mater has celebrated the dedication of more than 450 staff and volunteers today at our Long Service Awards—recognising more than 7365 years in total service to the organisation! Our longest serving recipient was Maureen Gleeson OAM, a Colorectal/Breast Surgery Clinical Nurse Consultant who celebrated 45 years of exceptional service to Mater and our patients. Maureen is pictured in the middle with Sr Madonna Josey, Sr Michaeleen Ahern, Sr Angela Mary Doyle and Sr Fay McMeniman. Read the wonderful summary of her years at Mater which was read at the awards.

Maureen’s Mater story began on 25 January 1971 as a student nurse, where she then quickly went on to become Charge Nurse in April 1974 of the Florence Nightingale Ward, which was the old Ward 1 (male surgical ward). Dr Chris Pyke, who began working with Maureen around 1981, reflects on what the ward was like during that time.

The ward was dominated by long stay complicated surgical patients and long stay vascular patients and the Sisters of Mercy were in charge of each ward. The day we moved to the new hospital (now Mater Hospital Brisbane), Maureen along with all the other nursing staff and all the junior doctors helped move the patients and their belongings between the old ward and the new building.

The new hospital did not have the Sisters of Mercy in charge of every ward. Maureen continued her role in the new hospital in 8A (the new surgical male ward) with Beth Wilson, Charge Nurse of 8B (the new female surgical ward). The wards covered general surgery, vascular and urology. Maureen understood the pressures of a busy surgical ward, as well as the pressures of the Mater being a teaching institution. One of her special skills was the ability to shepherd the junior medical staff through the many awkward moments which arose on teaching ward round. Maureen had an excellent relationship with all of the surgeons including the late Doctor Mervyn Neely, Dr Michael Wynne, the late Dr Chris Elmes, the late Dr Kevin O’Reilly, Dr John Heron, Dr Michael O’Rourke, the late Dr Ron Yaxley, Dr Geof Hirst, Dr Bill Campbell and the late Dr Murray Melville.

The 1990s for Maureen were dominated by the closure of ward 8A as an acute surgical ward. She then went to do a project in trialling a Breast Care Service and the rest is history! This was the beginning of a 20 plus year service to these patients. The management of breast cancer including those patients with drains had become in outpatient phenomena. Maureen found herself in the middle of a blossoming area of service delivery, and outpatient clinic numbers exploded, with numbers of greater than 60 per clinic commonplace. The clinics were courageously staffed by Sister Mary King RSM, then sister Sandra Loth RSM, until their youthful energy ran out.

In the 2000’s Maureen was joined by a second breast care Nurse, Carmel Gamble, and then later by Michelle Hawksworth. The outpatients moved a number of times before moving to their current location in the Salmon building. The outpatient walls would tell stories of women whose predicament was so dire that all the tissues in the world could not mop up their tears, and that all the caring and community services of the Mater were not enough to help. The need for one person to share the load between diagnosis, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgical complications, and five years follow-up was enormous – but one which Maureen accomplished with alacrity. It was for this role that she was deservedly awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2008, nominated by her patients and fellow staff in recognition for her commitment to breast care nursing.

Her colleagues speak of her collaboration with all in providing care to patients requiring breast surgery. She is always approachable and very knowledgeable in her chosen area of expertise.

During this time, the Mater Public became a major service provider to BreastScreen Queensland, and a leader in Brisbane in breast cancer service provision.

It goes without saying that Maureen, through her caring, courteous and conscientious approach has defined the culture of the Mater Breast Cancer Service. Her attention to the completion of tasks was legendary. Maureen’s ability to prioritise others needs over her own would best be demonstrated by her own experience of receiving the Order of Australia at Government House. When asked how she enjoyed it, she said that she spent most of the time adjusting the nasogastric feeding tube of her late father who was in attendance, and apart from that did not notice much.

As reflected by Michelle Hawksworth, who joined Maureen as a new Breast Care Nurse in 2013, Maureen was a patient, kind and tolerant mentor. She was both encouraging and helpful, providing moral support and teaching with her vast knowledge and experience. With her good nature, patience and sense of humour, one could not ask for a better mentor or work colleague.

Maureen will argue that any good reflection was just because she is a product of her age – the age of volunteering and community service. Some would say we should take note of how much Maureen personally contributed to the make up of this hospital and the influence she has had on others by modelling compassionate care during the past 45 years.

In short, Maureen is a beautiful person, who is a beautiful nurse, and who has contributed magnificently to nursing care at Mater.

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Tags: Mater Hospital Brisbane