This weekend's Western Trust Nightingale is Natalie Martin, Haematology Nurse Specialist, North West Cancer Centre, Altnagelvin Hospital.
"Tell me about yourself:
My name is Natalie Martin and I am a Haematology nurse specialist working in the Western Trust. I am based in the Cancer Services in Altnagelvin Hospital, where I have been working for 5 years. I have been in my current role for almost 2 years.
Why did you chose your job?
Working in Sperrin outpatients department provided me with an insight into the care of oncology and haematology patients. I developed a keen interest in haematology quite early on. Haematology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of blood and bone marrow conditions. It is a complex but fascinating specialty. I had the opportunity to undertake a year-long course in haematology and bone marrow transplant at Queens University Belfast in 2017. I was delighted to be appointed to my current role in 2018 and this has allowed me to further develop my knowledge and skills in this specialist area. My role involves providing information and support to patients and navigating them through their cancer journey. I love that my job allows me to hopefully make what is a very difficult time a little easier for our patients and their families.
What has changed in your role due to COVID 19? Changes to services?
Haematology patients are amongst the most vulnerable in society during the COVID-19 pandemic due to their often immuno-compromised state. As a result, an important part of our role has been educating and providing sound advice to patients and supporting them through what has been a very anxious time. There have been changes made to our service including an increase in virtual and telephone reviews as we have been trying to reduce unnecessary visits to hospital for patients if at all possible. Of course we have continued to see patients face-to-face in hospital such as those receiving a new diagnosis or patients who have ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Whilst doing so, we have been using our appropriate PPE and taking all the steps we can to protect our patients.
What makes you proud to be a nurse?
2020 is the year of the nurse and midwife and I can truly say I have never been prouder to be a nurse. During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been at the forefront, showing their dedication and putting patients first. Nurses and midwives make an undeniable contribution to the NHS and have continued to provide high quality, compassionate care despite the challenges faced.
How does your work help in the delivery of health and social care?
As a haematology nurse specialist, an important part of our role is undertaking nurse-led telephone clinics. Our patients have their bloods obtained in the community and we review the results later that day. We contact the patients and carry out a holistic assessment over the phone and organise any required interventions such as blood product transfusions, changes to their medications or additional investigations. Our telephone clinics help to facilitate patients having blood monitoring and treatments closer to home thereby reducing travel and hospital visits. They also provide us with an opportunity to link in with patients, provide support and ensure their holistic needs are being met.
What advice would you give the public on how they can help the NHS deal with COVID 19 pandemic?
I would urge the public to follow the up-to-date guidance from the government and be accountable for their actions. The public should do all they can do to protect themselves and others by social distancing and adopting good hand hygiene. Simple steps will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and thereby reduce the pressures on the NHS. We all have to work together to save lives."