Monica Dowling, ICU Liason Nurse and Organ Donation Nurse Specialist, won the Innovation Award at the latest Staff Recognition Awards. She was nominated by two of her colleagues – Ashley Shea and Bridget Walters, who said it was difficult to choose which award category Monica belongs to, as she has elements of each category in her workplace.
“Monica continually finds new ways to improve and build upon our current practices to ensure that patients have good end of life care as we only have one opportunity to make it right”, Bridget said.
“She identified that end of life care in ICU needed to be focused on and has worked tirelessly for the last two and a half years identifying key issues,” she added.
Ashley said that from mid 2017, Monica came up with an innovative way of improving patient and consumer experience at the point of end of life.
“The results of each of these cases have provided robust discussion within the ICU medical group and led to significant improvements in symptom management of patients and the increase in early communication and updates with their families,” he said.
Monica has been working at Northern Health for nearly 17 years.
“This is the longest I have ever worked in the same organisation. I have a dual role at Northern Health. In my first role, I work as an ICU Liaison Nurse following patient’s journey through ICU and I am also a member of the Medical Emergency Team (MET) answering the medical emergency calls around the hospital,” she explains.
In her second role, Monica has been a Nurse Donation Specialist of Organ and Tissue Donation at Northern Health for the past 10 years.
“I am passionate about accommodating patients’ wishes whether it is through the patients’ own advanced directives or goals of care at a MET call or ensuring that the patients’ end of life care is based on their expressed wishes – pain free, organ donation, loved ones present, pet dog visiting, favourite music playing etc,” she said.
Monica works a lot with patients and their families at end of life and through organ donation. Families going through one of the worst times of their lives when their loved one is dying never cease to amaze her with their generosity in consenting for their loved one to become an organ donor.
‘”Their ability to think of others at a time like this is a testament to the beauty within some people,” she said.
She was honoured to receive the Innovation award.
“I love what I do and to be recognised like this is very humbling,” she said.
In the future, she sees herself continuing with her current roles. She enjoys the diversity and also enjoys being a resource and mentor to staff, as she as 40 + years of experience in nursing to share and sees Northern Health as “growing, growing and growing”.
“The demand for the services at Northern Health is always growing and despite limited resources, Northern Health is very creative in its efforts to meet these demands. Everyone works hard and the leadership is to be applauded,” she said.
“Northern Health is a responsive and dynamic health service that is, and will continue to be, a force to be reckoned with,” Monica added.