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Nurse of the year says nurses should have a voice in health reform

And the winner is...: Irena Ashton has been named Nurse of the Year (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An award-winning nurse is calling for frontline health workers to have more say in how health services operate.

Irena Ashton made the recommendation in a letter to Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, after being named Nurse of the Year.

Ms Ashton, who runs Bermuda Home Dialysis Services, thanked Ms Wilson “for all you do for nurses in Bermuda”.

She added: “Moving from Covid-19, it is clear that nurses will need to be involved in all aspects of Bermuda healthcare policy, from the bedside to the boardroom.

“It is my goal for this year to keep empowering nurses so their input can help to shape the future of healthcare in Bermuda.”

Ms Ashton later told The Royal Gazette: “The main message for the year 2022 is that nurses need to be involved on a policy level of decision making in Bermuda, especially in the Universal Health Plan structure.

“I don’t think there is a single nurse involved on any of the existing steering committees.”

Ms Ashton beat five other nominees for title of Nurse of the Year at a ceremony hosted by the Bermuda Nurses Association on Sunday.

Accepting her award, she told the audience: “I’m truly honoured to be here today on this beautiful afternoon to receive such high professional recognition. Being elected as a nurse of the year means to join ranks of many accomplished nurses before me.

“I was born in central Europe in the former Eastern Bloc in what is now the Czech Republic where I received my nursing training.

“My nursing career started in renal care and I continue to work with chronic kidney disease patients to this day.

“I have been privileged to have few amazing mentors along the way that shaped my nursing career. It was also where I met my husband, who is here today and whom I owe many thanks for always supporting me in my nursing.

“Renal healthcare is truly my passion. In the last few years my nursing career shifted from clinical work to a full time leadership position.

“I have quickly realised how difficult it was finding new nurses for our clinic, and it motivated me to join BNA in hopes of helping to address the well-rooted nurses’ shortage.

“I have met a number of smart, dedicated, and hard-working nurses within BNA who are instrumental in keeping the nursing association alive and transforming it into a dynamic organisation.

“We often hear nurses say, ‘what is BNA doing for me?’ Well, the small group of hard-working BNA nurses would say ‘what can I do for my professional organisation?’ instead.

“The potential of BNA when realised will support nurses along the way in their professional lives. From networking, shaping the future of nursing to professional development.”

Ms Ashton praised BNA president Renee Faulcon for the way in which she ran the organisation.

She said: “It's humbling but very inspiring to work and volunteer alongside these nurses.

“One that stands out the most in her efforts to promote nursing in Bermuda is Ms Renee Faulcon. Renee volunteers tirelessly to keep the organisation on its course at all hours of the day.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree that we are here today because of her. Thank you, Renee, for all your hard work and dedication.

“Thanks to Karen Grant Simmons, last year’s nurse of the year and the rest of the BNA team for this remarkable recognition. It comes with a great sense of responsibility to keep working and promoting nurses and nursing in the months and years to come.”

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Published May 03, 2022 at 9:55 am (Updated May 03, 2022 at 9:55 am)

Nurse of the year says nurses should have a voice in health reform

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