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Nursing Pacific partnerships

Wendy Zernike with the newle graduated Helena Goldie Hospital nurses Photo: Rachel Oxford

UnitingCare Health Director of Mission, Helen Dick, tells of the fruitful partnership with Helena Goldie Hospital, Munda, and the celebration of their first nursing graduates.

"They trust us now because we keep coming back," commented Wendy Zernike on the continuing visits of UnitingCare Health teams to the Solomon Islands. In her role as Director of the Clinical School at the Wesley Hospital, Wendy has led teams of nurses from UnitingCare Health hospitals to the Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda twice a year since 2010.

Primarily the nurses teach in the Helena Goldie College of Nursing but they also help at the hospital and take much needed medical supplies with them. I was privileged to accompany this year's team, which recently returned from the first 2013 trip.

It included Wendy as well as Rachel Oxford and Jody Way, who were also accompanied by Wesley Hospital Pastoral Care Manager Rev Murray Fysh.

We were thrilled to be invited to take part in the graduation of the first cohort of registered nurses from Helena Goldie College.

During the graduation ceremony, student spokesperson Viola Fugui paid an emotional tribute to how much the input from the UnitingCare Health teams had helped them in their studies.

UnitingCare Health staff across Queensland also sponsor some students to enable them to complete their studies.

Most students are married with families but live away from home, and some find it difficult to afford their tuition fees, accommodation costs and expenses associated with travelling to placements.

Payroll deductions from UnitingCare Health staff and other fundraising activities provide a fund to help the students make ends meet.

The knowledge that ordinary people—in another country, many of them fellow nurses—are regularly contributing from their wages adds to the growing sense of relationship between the UnitingCare Health hospitals and the Helena Goldie Hospital.

"They are so excited to know that we are thinking of them and supporting them throughout the year" said Wendy, "They feel as if they are part of our wontok (family)".

UnitingCare Health employees are proud to be partners in the work of the Solomon Islands hospital.

Staff take a keen interest in each visit and in the progress of the students, especially those we sponsor.

It's clear the Helena Goldie staff demonstrate the same care and compassion for patients as we do, but their resources are far more limited.

The growing relationship between UnitingCare Health hospitals and the Helena Goldie Hospital continues to enrich both communities.

We're looking forward to participating in the Helena Goldie exchange well into the future.

Photo : Wendy Zernike with the newle graduated Helena Goldie Hospital nurses Photo: Rachel Oxford

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