NATIONAL NURSING WEEK 2017
Debbie Mahoney Markham Stouffville Hospital
t’s no surprise to anyone when they hear that a nurse works long hours – 12 hour shifts are the norm, when your profession is caring for patients in a hospital. But a 48 hour shift is what Debbie (Deb) Mahoney voluntarily offered a family in need, when she slept over for two nights at the family home to help care for a paediatric patient in her final stages of life. Deb is a registered nurse, at Markham Stouffville Hospital. She has worked at the hospital for close to 17 years, in both the emergency department and the oncology clinic. At the clinic Deb usually cares for adult cancer patients, and it was here, that Deb met *Rachel.
starts, and they require a different type of care. After getting to know the family and treating Rachel, Deb not only became a trusted care giver but a part of the family. She learnt that the family was in much need of support, they had previously tragically lost another child from the same disease. Deb took this knowledge to heart and made it her mission to give Rachel and her parents the best care possible.
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AFTER GETTING TO KNOW THE FAMILY AND TREATING RACHEL, DEB NOT ONLY BECAME A TRUSTED CARE GIVER BUT A PART OF THE FAMILY
Rachel, seven years old, was a paediatric patient at SickKids in Toronto. But upon hearing that the weekly trips downtown were exhausting Rachel and her family, Deb immediately agreed to make accommodations to take on this new younger patient. Deb wanted Rachel and her family, Stouffville residents, to be cared for in their own community. For over a year and a half Deb provided care to Rachel each week, and sometimes, twice a week. Deb is known as MSH’s resident intravenous expert and she made sure all the nurses at the clinic were armed with the knowledge to assist a paediatric patient. Caring for a seven year old is very different than caring for an adult – there are smaller transfusions, have harder intravenous
Then that fateful day came along, when it was Rachel’s (who was then nine years old) time to pass. Deb lived up to her personal promise of providing exceptional care to this family. She offered to stay with the family. The family welcomed Deb’s generous offer. So following her regular hospital shift caring for other patients, rather than heading home for well-deserved rest, Deb headed over to support Rachel and her family in their greatest time of need. At their time of anxiety, stress, and sadness, Deb was able to support Rachel and her parents. Her presence and nursing expertise kept Rachel comfortable and allowed Rachel’s parents to be grieving parents, and not worry about administering medications.
Rachel was able to die at home surrounded by the love of her family and under the steady watchful eye of Deb. Deb slept over for two nights and was
at Rachel’s bedside when Rachel’s journey had come to an end. *Name of the patient has been H changed in the story ■
Nominated by: Dr. Andrew Patterson, Chief Rehabilitation and Palliative Care, Markham Stouffville Hospital 28 HOSPITAL NEWS MAY 2017