Sharon Payne: Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner

Walk past Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner Sharon Payne on any given day and she can often be found making children smile in her Disney animated scrubs.

Her desire to make children comfortable while being treated in ED has seen the highly skilled nurse accumulate more than 30 animated scrubs from Batman and Hot Wheels to The Little Mermaid.

“I do have a special interest in paediatrics and everyone loves the shirts.”

Sharon has been part of the ED team since 1991. She came to Hawke’s Bay Hospital in 1977 as one of the last group of hospital-trained nurses. She started working on the wards, took on casual supervising shifts while raising a family and only ventured into ED to assist with the Woodford bus crash in 1987 – which was a rapid introduction to the department.

Then one day she was called to the Matron’s office.

“If you got called to the Matron’s office you were usually in trouble. She asked me to work in ED – and I’ve been here ever since.”

In 2009 Sharon became the first Nurse Practitioner in a regional ED – giving her the autonomy to work independently with consultant support when needed.

“The good days are when you’ve given good pain relief, managed a patient’s injury or illness and they get better and can go home.”

Unsurprisingly, Sharon spent a few long days in ED after the cyclone.

“We set up a triage area in the ambulance bay, the sun was shining and everything was calm but we knew just up the road there was complete devastation. Then the police cars started coming in dropping off wet people who had been on rooves and in trees.

“Some people were just wet, scared and upset. They were offered showers, given a gown, some food and a warm place to sit and we helped them get medication they had lost and listened to their stories.”

In the weeks following, Sharon assisted army personnel conducting a “seek and find” to ensure all people had been accounted for in Eskdale.

“We walked about 9km through mud, over landslides and along the railway line. We even had to go through about 200m of total destruction between us and three houses. Fortunately, the houses were empty.”

On top of her emergency nursing, Sharon works for the Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke’s Bay as a Nurse Advisor to Primary Care Nurse Practitioners and Interns, offering clinical support to other nurses.

She also fits in teaching at the Eastern Institute of Technology and the occasional trauma course.

“Teaching is my way of giving back to a career that has given me much.”

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