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Not so much a career as a calling

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Hard work, dedication and more than 30 years in the profession helped make Gaynell Hayward’s elevation to the post of chief nursing officer an easier transition.

The two-time Nurse of the Year always knew it was the career for her, even after losing her job as unit coordinator for the nursery and maternity ward during a restructuring of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

She didn’t quit nursing in frustration, she simply moved to another department, diagnostic imaging.

Mrs Hayward was officially promoted this month, taking over from Gaylia Landry who retired in August. From her office at the Hamilton Health Centre she oversees a staff of about 45.

“I’ve been in nursing since 1978. I have worked in a number of areas but one of them that was a particular passion was neonatal nursing, where I started,” said Mrs Hayward.

“Then I was promoted to assistant coordinator for the newborn nursery. I did that for a number of years and then I was appointed the unit coordinator for the nursery and the maternity ward. I was there about five years and then the hospital engaged in a reconstruction and at that time I lost my job [I was] one of ten nurses. That was in 1998, the same year I was awarded Nurse of the Year.

After a short time in diagnostic imaging she was recruited by the Health Department and took up the post of coordinator for maternal health and family planning in early 2000. Mrs Landry’s retirement coincided with Mrs Hayward’s near-completion of a master’s degree. She served as acting chief nursing officer for a period before being appointed to the post.

“I had just finished my dissertation and was quite enjoying my leisure time after having spent 26 months studying,” she said. ‘I was being encouraged to take the post but I really did not see it as being in keeping with what I wanted to do. However, after I prayed about it and with my children’s support, I then applied to interview for the post and I was selected as the candidate.

“I met Mrs Landry soon after starting at the hospital and she always left an indelible mark on me. It wasn’t until I came to the Health Department that I reconnected with her. She was one of my mentors. I also had a manager at the hospital, Bernice Fall, and I took over her post when she retired and she assisted in grooming me.”

Nursing will face many challenges in its effort to meet the needs of the Island’s ageing population, Mrs Hayward said.

“We have a fair number of nursing managers who are ageing and they will need to be replaced,” she said. “There has to be a succession plan in place because otherwise we are going to find we are going to have a big void, all of their knowledge and experience going out the door with the ageing workforce.”

She added: “One of the key areas as nurses that we must focus on is promoting nursing as a career among the young children. We don’t have many Bermudians maybe about 30 percent of our nurses are Bermudian so it is something that we want to work on in terms of promoting nursing as a career of choice.

“Nursing is recession proof in that you will find a job. You really need to care about people; it is a profession and something that you should really, really want to do. It has its challenges. You may find unsociable hours as the downside, however if you are determined and committed you can do it.”

Mrs Hayward’s call to nursing came very early in life. Her mother, Kathleen Ford, had always wanted to be a nurse. Mrs Hayward and her brother Russ Ford both chose the profession.

“My mom said that from the age of three she knew that I was going to be a nurse. My mother wanted to be a nurse and that played an important part in my life. I remember every single Christmas I got a nurse’s kit so that reinforced my plan to do nursing. Also, my mom always said to us that because she only completed primary school, whatever education we got, to get it for her as well. If anything we have always said to her ‘this one is for you’.”

Understandably, Mrs Ford is a proud mom, proud to know her dream never died: “I’m humbled and I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Lord, I wouldn’t have been able to put them through school.

“My mother died when I was 14 and I’ve had to support myself ever since. I saw those qualities in [my daughter] and every Christmas time I always bought her a nurse’s set or doctor’s set.

“Russ always said he was going to be a doctor, then he said he was going to do what Gaynell did. Actually they are missionary nurses, I sent them to a Christian institution and they had their early beginnings at a Christian school, Bermuda Institute. I’m well-pleased, let’s put it that way. I encouraged all of my children I had six and made sure they got the education I didn’t get.”

Mrs Hayward oversees the public health nursing service which consists of community nursing. Attached are school nurses and district nurses who provide home services.

“Then we have the clinic-based programmes, such as the communicable disease clinic, the maternal health clinic and also I am responsible for the homes Lefroy House and Sylvia Richardson (Care Facility),” she explained.

Mrs Hayward has long seen nursing as a profession in which she could contribute positively to the community. She has also done missionary work in Ethiopia where she worked in a hospital for three weeks, and in Haiti for nine days after its devastating earthquake in 2010.

“I have an orphanage programme in Kenya, a programme where the families are supported in their homes, the Hayward Community Orphanage Programme,” she disclosed. “I’ll probably go down there next year.

“My motto is if you pass through this life and have not made a difference for the positive then you have lived in vain. What a loss.”

Gaynell Hayward, new Chief Nursing Officer reflects on her 34 year career in nursing. (Photo by Akil Simmons) February 13,2012
Gaynell Hayward celebrates her Nurse of the Year award with brother Russ Ford (Senior Nursing Officer in Corrections) and mother Kathleen ford whose early dream was to become a nurse.
Gaynell Hayward, new Chief Nursing Officer reflects on her 34 year career in nursing(Photo by Akil Simmons) February 13,2012

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Published February 16, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am)

Not so much a career as a calling

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