Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones may be one of the few people who’s able to see the bright side of working during a global pandemic.

“Covid-19’s a curve ball, but it’s allowing us to do things differently,” she says.

Having been a nurse, a midwife, and a lactation consultant, Sharon knows all about being flexible and adapting to change – and she sees plenty of scope for innovation ahead with the development of our New Dunedin Hospital.

“There are so many exciting opportunities.”

As the Director of Nursing for Surgical Services at our Dunedin site, Sharon’s responsible for looking after a cohort of about 600 nurses – and she’s already getting them prepared to move to our Outpatient Building in 2025 and our Inpatient Building in 2028.

“We’re thinking about the models of care changes we’re going to need, what workforce will be needed, and how we’ll transition from now to then. We’re developing our nurses now so we can have a homegrown workforce.”

Sharon hopes that some of our nurses will take a new career pathway and upskill to become nurse practitioners.

“A nurse practitioner has a clinical master’s degree and a scope of practice in one area that’s equivalent to a doctor. They have delegated authority to prescribe, and they’re able to work alongside our medical teams.”

It won’t only be the makeup of our workforce that’s enhanced in our new hospital – it will be the way we deliver services. For example, we’re taking a new approach to planned surgery which will enable more people to get operations.

“At the moment, minor operations can get cancelled when big, acute cases come in.”

The new hospital will have a ’23-Hour Ward’ to increase our capacity to provide smaller operations such as hernia procedures and nasal surgery.

“I’ve visited 23-Hour Wards in Australia and seen them in action. They’re a really exciting concept.”

The model of care is not a substitute for day surgery, but an extension of services for short-stay patients undergoing more complex elective procedures. Patients are monitored post-operatively and discharged within 23 hours.

“It’s a fast track for people to get their surgeries done. These short, rapid turnarounds will help with flow and save resources for large operations that are not routine or quick turnover.”

The 23-Hour Ward is just one of the changes to care that Sharon and her team are planning.

“As we’re looking at ways of delivering Covid-19 care in the community, we’re thinking about how we can capitalise on this new model of care delivery and use the same principles to deliver other types of care. We need to be open-minded and embrace the opportunities ahead.”

Sharon says she’s learnt from the experiences of colleagues who’ve moved into new facilities in other centres.

“You can’t take what you’re doing now and simply move it into a new building. The opportunity to change things up, innovate and be brave, is an opportunity we cannot miss.”

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