International Nurse’s Day : Nursing during COVID-19 (UK)

Lynne HadleyMy name is Lynne Hadley and I have worked as an Ophthalmology Matron in a Trust South East England since 2001 and have over thirty years of nursing experience. The Trust comprises of three main hospital sites and three satellite sites. I started my career in Day Surgery where I gained experience in ward, theatre recovery and pre assessment. I completed my Nurse Practitioner Degree in 2001 and went on to complete an MSc in Inter-professional Health and Social Care and a Post Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to combine my nursing skills with a love of travel and have participated in voluntary work in a number of countries. I have been on the council of The International Ophthalmic Nurses Association UK for seven years and took up the role of President in 2017. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, like many ophthalmology departments around the world we are currently only seeing urgent and emergency cases in our clinics on the main sites. The remaining patients in our clinics in the South of England are receiving consultations through newly established telemedicine and telephone services. 

This means that a number of ophthalmology staff have been redeployed to other areas within the hospital. During these difficult times with high levels of anxiety, I wanted to remain available to support the team I work with whilst continuing to offer support to the critical areas.   

As a nurse, I consider myself to be versatile, adaptable and willing to take on any new challenges. I started my nursing career in surgery, so felt relatively well equipped to volunteer myself to become a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) trainer. The donning, doffing and correct wearing of PPE is crucial to the well-being of frontline staff. Classes last approximately 30 minutes and vary in size but always respecting social distancing. 

However, I was less well equipped for the fit testing of face masks. Around 95% of fit testing is carried out in industry, with only around 5% of fit testing being carried out in healthcare, so a whole new area for me. I have had to learn about ambient particle counts (APC) and the different styles and types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE).  I have learned that masks will only protect if they are correct for the task, the location and the wearer. This was supported by undertaking a remotely delivered ‘APC Quantitative RPE fit testing course’, which has enabled me to test around twenty people a day 

Currently, I am loving my new role, keeping in touch with my patients, staff and playing my part in helping to cope with the pandemic. However, taking on a new role after more than twenty years as Ophthalmology Matron has not been without its challenges! I am not sure how long my “new role” will last, certainly the next couple of months. One thing is certain- we have all learned a lot and the delivery of services around the world will never be quite the same again!