Well Foundation Poster-girl Donna Is Retiring
For the last few years, patients, staff and visitors at Waitakere Hospital have been greeted with the warm and welcoming smile of Donna Riddell, Charge Nurse Manager Anawhata Ward and one of the Well Foundation’s biggest supporters.
After nearly 40 years as a nurse with 32 of them spent at Waitakere and North Shore Hospitals, our poster girl, Donna is retiring from nursing and her energy and warmth will be missed by staff, visitors and patients alike.
We sat down with Donna to find out a bit more about her time as a nurse and especially her relationship with Waitakere and North Shore Hospitals and the Well Foundation.
1. How long have you worked as a nurse?
I started in 1977 as a student community nurse at Waitakere when I was around 17 and I’ve been a nurse ever since. I’ve been a student community nurse, an enrolled nurse and became a registered nurse in 1996 working as a new graduate RN on ward 3 at North Shore Hospital. In 2001 I returned to Waitakere Hospital working as Charge Nurse Manager in ward 2, the ward where I first started my nursing in 1977.
2. Why did you choose Waitakere hospital?
It chose me because at that time you didn’t really have a choice about where you were placed as a student nurse. But when I was younger, my Mum used to be a local taxi driver out west and we would sit in the taxi with her and we would come past the hospital, past the older part which was long term care wards and a maternity hospital back then. The community was trying to get more services set up here and Mum was a part of that push to get a local hospital for West Auckland.
3. What made you decide to become a nurse?
My Mum had a really bad car accident when I was a teenager, when I was about 13 or 14 and I watched those nurses care for her and I thought I really want to do that, I want to be somebody who could help people when they were really in need and be able to make a difference in their lives in a caring compassionate way. And so that’s one of the reasons why I became a nurse. And I’ve never regretted it. If I had my life to choose again I’d still choose nursing, it would always be nursing.
4. What is the best thing about your job?
It’s about being able to offer comfort and dignity, particularly at the difficult time for patients and their families and in my day to day nursing practise, just being able to alleviate someone’s pain or distract them for a little while so that they can have a little break or some relief of their symptoms.
Last week I was helping an elderly lady who for whatever reason hadn’t had a lot of human contact in a long time and she was apprehensive about standing up. So I supported her to stand up and embraced her in my arms and held on to her, while we transferred her to a chair and in the end it was a hug which she didn’t want to release and I could feel her totally relax at the end. And that’s the stuff that I love about nursing. Being able to make a difference through empathy, touch and experience gained over many years.
5. What are you going to miss most about working at Waitakere Hospital?
Without a doubt it would be the people. The people that I work with, the nursing staff that I work with, the patients and the community that I’ve helped care for, I haven’t just cared for the parents, I’m now caring for their sons and daughters, I’ve cared for two generations of people now. So much happens here because of the grace of people who go the extra mile. It’s a real community based hospital and the community does give back as well. There’s a lot of reciprocity in nursing. Waitakere Hospital is my Tūrangawaewae it’s where I started and it’s where I planned to finish. I will miss Waitakere Hospital and WDHB, but especially the colleagues I have met along the way, and the patients who have trusted me with their care over the years. Thanks you all.