Nurse Joan's 45 years of caring for stroke victims in west Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 12:30 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:30 06 February 2019
A nurse who has spent 45 years caring for patients in two King's Lynn hospitals has been celebrated as she embarks on a semi-retirement.
Joan Gill, 69, has been making a difference to stroke patients at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and prior to that St James Hospital since the 1970s.
Ms Gill gave up her Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration on January 30 but will be returning to West Raynham ward as a health care assistant later this month.
She said: “Instead of climbing up the ladder, I am going down a rung but this place has been my family for nearly 50 years.
“The team in West Raynham has always been there for me, in good times and in bad. I have also enjoyed watching nurses grow into sisters and ward mangers.
“I have always wanted to be a nurse and enjoy caring for the patients, which is why I have always been proud to be a staff nurse.
“Stroke care has changed so much during my time. It is interesting to see people that would not have survived a stroke in the past who are now walking out of the door.”
Ms Gill qualified as a nurse whilst serving in the Royal Air Force in 1970 and later joined the team at St James’ in 1974 where she had specialised in caring for older patients.
She later moved over to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after it was built in the 1980s.
“Technology has changed such a lot as we are able to diagnose and treat different strokes now,” said Ms Gill.
“It is so important to recognise the signs of a stroke because if we catch it early we can do so much. With thrombolysis, I have seen people with left side weakness recover before my eyes. They are up and walking the next day.”
Ms Gill has always been a firm favourite in West Raynham ward, which is ranked in the top 10 stroke units in the country, for her support to patients, relatives and fellow staff members.
Mike Ennis, whose wife had been treated in the ward, said: “Joan is lovely and always did her best for her patients. I was always happy to leave my wife in Joan’s capable hands.”
Chief Nurse Emma Hardwick has also paid tribute to her long career.
She said: “I would like to thank Joan for the care she has given to our patients over the last 45 years and for the inspirational support she has given to her colleagues on West Raynham.
“Over the years Joan has been a fine example of how improving care, improves outcomes and most importantly improves lives. I am also really pleased that Joan is not leaving us entirely and will be staying on to be a health care assistant.”
The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:
Face – the face may have dropped on one side or the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped
Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled
Time – time to dial 999.