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Clinical Nurse Specialist Linda Grady to retire after 49-year career 

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Clinical Nurse Specialist Linda Grady retires next week after working 35 years in the Intensive Care Unit (Te Puna Wai Ora) at Dunedin Public Hospital, and even longer at the hospital.   

Linda’s amazing career spanning 49 years in the Southern District was recently celebrated, with more than 100 colleagues gathering at the Art Gallery. Amidst much laughter and tears, Linda was recognised as ‘the ICU go-to person’ who would be ‘greatly missed’.  

ICU Charge Nurse Manager, Carla Snow told the gathering Linda’s leaving would mark the end of an era.  

“Linda has a style of teaching and ability to tell a story and tailor education on the spot so that each individual can relate and learn. It has helped so many stressed nurses (and doctors) pass any course Linda was lecturing on. You leave behind a legacy that will never be forgotten,” Carla said.  

During Linda’s long career she has been more than just an ICU nurse – she has gained extensive experience and knowledge after filling many roles across a wide spectrum of medical care services.  

After being born and raised in Palmerston, Linda moved to Dunedin in the early 1970s to study at the University of Otago and began her working life as a Technician in Cardiology and Respiratory departments at Dunedin Hospital. Realising that she really enjoyed the people contact at work, Linda then trained as a Registered Nurse and became Charge Nurse in Paediatric Orthopaedics and Surgery.  

In 1987 she started working as a Registered Nurse in Neurosurgery and ICU, where she has worked as an indispensable part of the team for the past 35 years.  

“I have seen the hospital change its structure, the look, and the name… What touches me is the significant improvements of the ICU patient care over the years - the shift I saw in nursing from being very task-oriented to being able to provide personalised care and services to the patient and their whānau made a huge difference,” Linda says.  

“I really like the way that the medical staff and nursing staff interact as a team, and we function as a team. Your opinions are asked for and valued. We are like a family. And the opportunities to continue to study throughout my career are well supported by the management team.”  

Linda, who has a Master’s in Education, developed expertise in sepsis and shock, respiratory failure, CPAP and non-invasive ventilation, recognising the deteriorating patient, tracheostomy management, respiratory assessment, cardiac assessment, acute kidney injury, and chest x-ray interpretation. 

She has also been a member of the flight team, nurse educator, clinical skills tutor and professional teaching fellow at the university, and a coordinator of advanced health assessment and clinical reasoning paper.   

Shayne Wylie, ICU Service Manager says that ICU would not be what it is now without the contribution Linda has made to its functioning and culture.  

“She is an expert nurse with an immense knowledge and skill base, able to care for the sickest of patients. She was one of the inaugural team members of the ICU flight service and paved the way for others to follow. She has expertly managed patients with a tracheostomy both within the hospital and in the community and is an international best practise expert in this speciality. Many of us have benefited from the light Linda Grady touch and are better people and practitioners as a result.” 

Linda will also be remembered by her iconic red shoes worn in the old 5A ICU unit, the rainbow curtain she made to cheer up paediatric patients, along with her humming and singing.  

A winner of Otago Nursing Excellence Awards, Linda has some advice with people coming into nursing:  

  1. Always put patients and their whānau first, so do not lose sight of your practice.  

  1. Be open to the experience – every patient provides an opportunity for delivering the best care and turn it into a positive experience for the patient and their whānau. 

  1. A good pair of sportive shoes are your best friend at work. Be generous to yourself and get the decent ones.  

An avid quilter, Linda now plans to make the most of her retirement by joining a quilting group, which she was never able to due to the conflict of her work hours. She also looks forward to spending more quality time with her grandson and visiting families and friends overseas.  

Linda in her Christmas-themed scrubs, in front of the old entrance to Dunedin Public Hospital - now Psychiatric Services Building.

Linda in her Christmas-themed scrubs, in front of the old entrance to Dunedin Public Hospital - now Psychiatric Services Building.