Media releases

Media releases and statements by Rachel Stephen-Smith

Recognising Canberra’s Nurses and Midwives

May 12, 2020

A Neonatal Midwife, a Clinical Nurse Consultant and two Emergency Department Registered Nurses have taken out the top three 2020 Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards in the categories of Midwife, Nurse and Team of the Year respectively.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith today congratulated the winners of the annual awards which celebrate the work our nurses and midwives do each day to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the Canberra community:

Midwife of the Year – Kathy Coonan – a Neonatal Midwife at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce. A role model for staff to aspire to, Kathy began her career as a midwife in Canberra in 1983. Kathy Coonan was instrumental in setting up the Newborn and Parent Support Service at the Canberra Hospital in the mid-1990s where the program to this day allows premature babies to be discharged earlier with skilled neonatal clinicians caring for the family in their home.

Nurse of the Year – Christopher Harris – a Clinical Nurse Consultant at the University of Canberra Hospital. With 10 years’ experience, Chris Harris is responsible for Stromlo Ward’s modern-day leadership and management practice that provides excellent patient care and a supportive workplace for staff. Under his leadership Stromlo Ward achieved the highest rating in a staff culture survey.

Team of the Year – Britt Shephard and Shannon Narracott are Registered Nurses in the Emergency Department at the Canberra Hospital. The pair are passionate voices and advocates for vulnerable patients with a particular interest in suicide prevention and education, organising the 2019 Suicide Prevention Ball that raised more than $41,000 for the Black Dog Institute. They are now working towards the development of a national mental health and counselling program.

Other award-winners to receive awards during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife include:

  • Nikki Johnston, a Nurse Practitioner at Clare Holland House who specialises in Palliative Care (Excellence in Quality Improvement and Research Practice).
  • Heather Needham, Senior Manager of Patient Experience, Canberra Health Services (Excellence in Leadership Practice).
  • Mercy Lukose, Clinical Nurse Consultant Ward 11B, Canberra Health Services (Excellence in Management Practice).
  • Rachel Bilton-Simek, Palliative Care Educator, Clare Holland House (Excellence in Educational Practice).
  • The Ward 11A team who specialise in care of the elderly, Canberra Health Services (Excellence in Clinical Practice).

“Globally, 2020 is being marked as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and given the exceptional events we’re facing, it is very timely to acknowledge just how much we value the contribution of all nurses and midwives make to looking after and caring for our community.

“They are leaders, innovators and health care advocates. They come from all backgrounds and have different specialities—but they are all an integral part of our health care system.

“Our nurses and midwives have a great impact on the lives of people in our community. As we face the challenges of COVID-19, nurses and midwives across our health system have not wavered in their community to delivering high quality, person centred health care,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“During this public health emergency, when people are at their most vulnerable, we appreciate their work now more than ever.”

The ACT Health Directorate’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Anthony Dombkins said the winners were well deserving of their awards.

“International Year of the Nurse and Midwife celebrates 200 years since the birth of Florence Nightingale who was regarded as the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale was known not just for her technical skills and expertise but more so for her trailblazing efforts in social reform and her nurturing, caring approach.”

“This year’s award recipients, as nominated by their peers, demonstrate the highest standards within their winning categories. The skill, compassion, dedication and commitment to the health industry requires the highest of praise - these winners are great role models to the profession,” Mr Dombkins said.

To arrange an interview with the winners, contact ACT Health Media on 0403 344 080 or at [email protected]

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