Kereen Richards (1947-2023): ‘the quintessential nurse’
A “quintessential nurse” and mentor has been mourned by the Bermuda Hospitals Board.
Kereen Richards, who spent 40 years at the hospital, retired in 2013 as the clinical director of the continuing care unit.
In a tribute, her family recalled her as their “backbone”.
Her other hospital roles included co-ordinating the Emergency Department. Ms Richards also served as chairwoman of the Bermuda Nursing Council.
Judy Richardson, chief of nursing, remembered her as “a well-respected nurse leader” whose example she followed when she started at the hospital.
“Kereen taught me a lot about nursing at KEMH,” she added.
“She was compassionate, empathetic, knowledgeable and even-tempered. I sought her advice many times and she was always willing to offer support.”
She recalled getting to know Ms Richards’ husband, George. The couple also had son, Yuri.
“When I became chief of nursing at the end of 2009, we continued our professional relationship and Kereen continued to work hard to advocate for improving the care of BHB’s elders.
“So many nurses, patients, families and stakeholders benefited from her dedication to the nursing profession in Bermuda.”
Ms Richardson offered condolences to her family. She added: “You will never be forgotten.”
Ms Richards was Nurse of the Year in 1990 and was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace in 2002.
She grew up in Pembroke and attended Central School, now Victor Scott Primary School, followed by the Berkeley Institute.
In 1967, she began nursing school at King Edward Hospital in London, which has since become part of Ealing Hospital.
Lynnette Bean, BHB’s vice-president of quality and patient safety, said Ms Richards was her immediate supervisor when she transferred to the Emergency Department in January 1993 to begin emergency RN training.
“She encouraged me to learn everything I could, embrace all opportunities for growth and development, and challenged me to be the best that I could be as a nurse in the Emergency Department,” she said.
“I remember bringing concerns to her about things that happened on the shift and her response was, `So what are we going to do to solve it?’
“Kereen was my coach, my boss, my sounding board, my colleague, my team-mate, my mentor and big RN sister. Her calm but firm demeanour supported, lifted and encouraged you, especially during failures, and made you look for the lessons that could springboard you to success.”
She said Ms Richards was an “inspiration”, showing how to deliver care with “compassion, confidence and competence while maintaining calmness during highly stressful situations”.
The hospital’s vice-president of operations for acute and ambulatory care, Norma Smith, said: “I met Kereen during my very first week at KEMH as a new nurse beginning my career.
“Kereen made a point of seeking out the young Bermudian nurses and enlightening us on the journey we were about to embark on if we were going to make a difference in our own country.
“Kereen and her contemporaries at the time had truly taken on the arduous task of paving the way.”
Ms Smith called her “the quintessential nurse – confident, capable, compassionate, kind and energetic”.
“As we journeyed from boss and subordinate, supervisor and employee, and eventually to colleagues, one thing never changed – and that was Kereen the mentor.
“A shining, perfect example of what a nurse and leader could and should be.”
She said Ms Richards possessed “uncanny sensitivity” and an instinct for giving advice – or, when needed, reproach.
“Our hearts go out to her loving husband and entire family.
“Kereen Richards will be sorely missed by all of us. May she rest in peace.”
• Kereen Moria Renna Richards, a former clinical director of the Continuing Care Unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, was born on February 17, 1947. She died on January 5, 2023, aged 75.
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