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Nurses honoured at Southern Nursing Excellence Awards 2023

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Te Whatu Ora Southern, together with our partners from education and general practices across the district, celebrated International Nurses' Day last week with the Southern Nursing Excellence Awards held in Invercargill on 11 May and Dunedin on 12 May.

It was an exciting opportunity for nurses to come together and celebrate their achievements after the disruption of COVID-19. All nurses working in the Southern district catchment area, across various settings, organisations and providers, were eligible for the awards.

Two ceremonies were held making them incredible events to recognise nursing innovation, quality improvement, patient safety, clinical excellence, leadership, research, new graduates, education, rising stars, and outstanding nursing practice in the profession. 

Māori and Pacific Nursing awards were presented this year, and this is the first time this has occurred.  The Māori award has been gifted a name; Te Kete a Matariki Māori Nursing Award.  This recognised the clinical and cultural expertise alongside Matauranga Māori, Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Pacific Nursing Award recognised the contribution to Pacific Health and acknowledgement of Pacific communities. 

Nurses were nominated by their peers or managers, and close to 100 nominations were received. These awards are the embodiment of Southern's commitment to the theme of this year’s International Nurses Day 12 May: “Our nurses: Our future”, symbolising Southern's profound appreciation for the invaluable contributions made by nurses and their crucial role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Jane Wilson, Te Whatu Ora Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer for Southern, believes that all nurses are deserving of recognition for the significant contribution they make every single day.

“All those nominated are exemplars of so many other nurses doing amazing things every day in our district.”

She emphasised the importance of taking a moment to pause and formally recognise nurses who exemplify excellence across various settings in the Southern health system.

“I am so proud and in awe of what our nurses do, despite the challenges and pressures they face every working day.”

Maike Rickertsen, Southland Hospital Clinical Nurse Coordinator, was the well-deserved winner of the Emma Bagley Memorial Award.

The award recipient was endorsed by the family of Emma Bagley, a former senior surgical ward nurse who died tragically in 2018 and was awarded to a special nurse who exemplifies the qualities and values that Emma was known for.

“Receiving the Emma Bagley Memorial Award has been and still is a very emotional and humbling experience for me.  It is a very special award indeed,” Maike says.

Emma was a positive, caring, empathetic and supportive nurse and person, Maike added.

“She was someone to be inspired by and look up to. It is truly humbling to be recognised and valued by the team as a worthy recipient of this special award.”

The special Outstanding Service to Nursing Award was bestowed upon Sally O'Connor, former Director of Nursing - Strategy, Primary & Community at Te Whatu Ora Southern and now Enliven Director at Presbyterian Support Otago, in recognition of her outstanding contribution across the sector, championing innovative practice and pushing the boundaries to make a ‘real difference’ for our community. 

Sally says “It was a very special honour for me to receive this award.  I am privileged to have worked with so many wonderful and wise nurses who have supported me during my career.  Nursing is a wonderful profession with so many opportunities.”

Despite the many challenges facing healthcare workers, Jane believes that there are enormous opportunities for nurses to be at the forefront alongside their healthcare worker colleagues.

“Nurses in all settings can lead or champion new or different ways of working that continually improve the community's access to healthcare and, with that, improve equity and health outcomes,” Jane adds.

Te Whatu Ora Southern extends its gratitude for what nurses individually and collectively do for our people, whānau, and communities.

Maike Rickertsen, Southland Hospital Clinical Nurse Coordinator, was the well-deserved award recipient of the Emma Bagley Memorial Award.

Sally O’Connor – Enliven Director, Presbyterian Support Otago (former Director of Nursing - Strategy, Primary & Community at Te Whatu Ora Southern) and recipient of the Outstanding Service to Nursing Award.