Caring ways earn nurse accolades

Sue Brighton is pretty impressed with her colleagues at the London Health Sciences Centre and, it turns out, many of the patients in the vascular surgery department are pretty impressed with her.

Brighton was recently awarded the LHSC President's Award in the category of Living Our Values, an annual effort to recognize hospital employees for their contributions to the community.

The nurse practitioner sees patients in pre- and post-operative settings. Her main responsibilities lie in liaising between doctors, nurses, families and patients, as well as offering hands-on care. Working as a staff nurse for 20 years and as a nurse practitioner for 15, Brighton is quick to share the spotlight with her colleagues.

"It's really a collaborative thing and there are a lot of people here who deserve this as much as I do - the nurses, doctors, residents and clerical staff - they are all great. Every one of them is a very dedicated person," she says.

Brighton practices "patient-focused" medicine. This takes many forms from "going the extra mile" to intervening on behalf of a patient to ensure to that she or he gets necessary surgery.

In the latter case, a guy in his 20s (the majority of cases in her department are with elderly patients) had a rare disease that caused his medical problems. He was from a community in northern Ontario and had been a patient in the LHSC vascular surgery department for a long while. When he finally returned home, his condition wasn't improving and was finally admitted to hospital there. His local doctor wasn't aware of the kinds of health issues that could arise from the young man's condition and wasn't taking it too seriously. Brighton telephoned him and convinced the doc to have him airlifted to LHSC to receive a second surgery that he needed to finally start on the road to recovery. She took the extra step that made a difference.

Sometimes it's about quality of life for her patients. An elderly gentleman, who'd been a longtime patient in the department, really wanted to attend his granddaughter's wedding in Chatham. His medical condition necessitated attendance by a nurse and he needed medically trained transportation, but he couldn't afford either.

Brighton raised the funds to pay for the transportation by passing the hat among colleagues, who were happy to help, and volunteered to accompany the gentleman as his nurse.

"When we got there, his granddaughter was out front and wheeled him into the church," says Brighton. "She was crying and there wasn't a dry eye in the church."

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