Local nursing director takes out prestigious national award

St John of God Richmond Hospital’s Director of Nursing Lorna O’Brien has been named Nurse of the Year by Catholic Health Australia.

Ms O’Brien was acknowledged for her leadership and for her work in introducing a new digital customer relationship management tool to replace paper-based records.

Nurse of the Year: St John of God Richmond Hospital’s Director of Nursing Lorna O’Brien. Picture: Supplied.

Nurse of the Year: St John of God Richmond Hospital’s Director of Nursing Lorna O’Brien. Picture: Supplied.

St John of God Richmond Hospital CEO Stephen Brooker said the new database took three months to scope, develop and implement and has transformed the way hospital admissions team work, enhancing the patient enquiry and referral process and enabling better access to care.

“The admission team now has more visibility over all of the clients contacting the service through an efficient patient-centred database,” he said.

“The database provides patients with a time-orientated system that tracks their status within the admission cycle and provides real-time feedback.

“Most of all the new system provides information on clinical risk and how to manage people with mental health concerns – who can be said to be the most acute - in the community as they wait for a bed.

“The introduction of this system is just one example of Lorna’s incredibly positive and can-do attitude which flows throughout the hospital to all her managers, nurses to other disciplines and professions across the hospital.”

Ms O’Brien said she was proud of her role in delivering the CRM and felt humbled to receive the award.

“I am passionate about my work and I feel very proud to be acknowledged for my contribution to nursing through this award,” she said.

“I would like to thank my team and the wider hospital community for their commitment and support. If it wasn’t for the team adapting and embracing the digital process, it wouldn’t have worked.

“This initiative is just one example of how we continue the core values of nursing in new and innovative ways to stay relevant and help those who seek our care.”

Ms O’Brien joined St John of God Richmond Hospital as a nurse manager two years ago before being appointed as the hospital’s Director of Nursing; however, her connection to the hospital dates back to the 1980s and 1990s when she worked at the facility as a registered nurse.

Previously working with the Cancer Council, Ms O’Brien said her two passions in nursing were caring for patients with cancer and those experiencing mental health issues.

“The compassion needed in cancer and mental health care has always aligned with me,” she said. “When people are faced with adversity in both situations, it is the human spirit and resilience that really shines through and gives hope.

“What I would really like to see in mental health nursing is for the stigma around psychiatric care to be removed. I know, through my work, that when people have cancer their loved ones visit with flowers and cards and embrace the patients, whereas when it comes to mental health, loved ones often stay away, as it can be a long recovery. I would love to see mental health treated equally.”

Mr Brooker said her passion for nursing and her leadership had resonated throughout the hospital.

“Her deep understanding and commitment to the Mission and Values of St John of God Richmond Hospital enables her to be an effective leader, one who is able to empower others in order to bring about excellent patient care. In this way she epitomises servant leadership and demonstrates this quality at every level of the organisation,” he said.