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From a girl who dreamt of being a nurse to retiring aged 75

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A nursing career that dates back to 1964 has finally come to a close for Swansea’s Hazel Eastman.

Hazel has decided to retire at the aged of 75, to spend more time with her family – including her soon-to-be eight grandchildren.

“I would have kept going if I could but it’s a very tough, demanding job – more now than ever – and I have had some health issues.

“It’s been a part of my life for so long and it’s hard to break that routine,” said Hazel.

“You really get to know your patients and I enjoyed working with my colleagues. You could share problems and have a laugh too. I will miss it terribly but I have a lot of good memories.”

In 2016, Hazel, then aged 70, featured in a health board media release about her long career. She recalled how nursing was something she had wanted to do ever since she had her tonsils out as a little girl.

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“I wanted to nurse and look after people. I remember having all the teddies and dolls on my bed and sticking needles into them.

“I had a shock when I went nursing and found out it’s not just sticking needles in people!”

Hazel in her SEN days.
The photo was taken in the late 1970s
(Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Hazel first donned the student nursing uniform in 1964 at the age of 18 in Morriston Hospital.

She was involved in elderly care for most of her career.

In the mid-1960s she transferred from Morriston to Swansea’s Mount Pleasant Hospital where she trained to become an SEN – State Enrolled Nurse.

Every Christmas Day, Hazel and her colleagues would wear fancy dress to make it a special occasion for their patients.

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Hazel remained in Mount Pleasant for 23 years, during which time she converted to an SRN (State Registered Nurse).

During her time there, she also gave birth to identical twin daughters, in 1967, and later to her third child, a son.

Over subsequent years Hazel worked in Hill House and Fairwood Hospital until it closed in 2010, when she was redeployed to Gorseinon Hospital.

In later years she nursed part time and now, finally, has called it a day. But with seven grandchildren, and with an eighth on the way, even in retirement she will still be kept very busy.

She’s also the first person her family calls on when there is an injury, illness or when any medical attention is required. 

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Hazel, aged 70, pictured in Gorseinon Hospital in 2016 (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Deb McNeil, unit matron at Gorseinon Hospital said: “I have had the pleasure of working alongside and getting to know Hazel very well for the last four years.

“Hazel makes me smile when I think of her, on a personal level I think of her very witty humour and professionally I am in awe of her achievements and dedication to our health board and ultimately our patients.

“Hazel has a generous nature and will always go above and beyond for both staff and patients alike.

“I remember times when she would volunteer to work every Christmas to give staff time off with their young children.

“Hazel is very much a go-to person, with her trustworthy way and her wealth of life experience that we all as a team learned from and cherished.

“Both personally and on behalf of the whole team I want to say a huge thank you all of your years of service, your dedication and commitment to your role and for your support over the years.

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“You really are an inspiration to us all. Congratulations on your retirement, love and best wishes.”

Lead Image: Hazel outside Gorseinon Hospital, where she worked after redeploying there in 2010 until her retirement (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Health

Health board warning flu cases leading to hospital admissions in Swansea Bay

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woman lying on bed while blowing her nose

The flu virus is already circulating and has led to people being hospitalised according to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid.

Dr Reid said the cases, although small in number, should be a timely reminder that everyone eligible for a free flu vaccination should take up the offer.

Dr Keith Reid

“Flu was non-existent in autumn and winter 2020 as lockdowns, mask wearing and increased hand hygiene stopped it and other winter bugs from spreading from person to person,” he said.

“But we have been expecting to see flu come back this year and potentially at levels up to twice as high as a normal flu season.

“People were simply not exposed to flu and other seasonal viruses last year, so the level of immunity in the community is likely to have dropped and people will be susceptible.

“Plus we are all mixing far more now and, with the bad weather coming, we are all going to be heading indoors which will give flu and other bugs the ideal opportunity to spread.”

Flu can be fatal and research has shown that those infected with both flu and Covid are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.

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Dr Reid said: “This will be the first winter when we will have significant levels of flu and Covid circulating at the same time, so I must urge everyone, if they are eligible for a free flu vaccination, to take up the offer as soon as possible.

“While no vaccine can offer 100% protection, the flu vaccine remains our best defence against this nasty virus.

“And remember, if you haven’t yet had your first Covid vaccination you can still do so.”

(Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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Armed Forces

Military to support Welsh Ambulance Service from today

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The Armed Forces will begin to support the Welsh Ambulance Service from today.

Fifty troops from 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corp will drive ambulances across Wales from Tuesday having undergone training at Newport’s Raglan Barracks on the weekend.

They will be joined in the next week by a further 50 personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

A 29-strong team of supporting personnel will make a total of 129 soldiers, sailors and airmen supporting the Trust until the end of November.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “We’re proud and grateful to have the military working alongside us once again, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

“Having our Armed Forces colleagues back on board will help us put more ambulances on duty so we can get to more patients, more quickly, while the extreme pressure continues.

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“Essentially, they’ll work with one of our clinicians on an emergency ambulance responding to the full range of emergency calls.

“The winter period is our busiest time, and having military support will bolster our capacity and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”

Major Alex Wilson, Officer Commanding 60 Close Support Squadron, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, said: “Over the weekend we spent time training with the paramedics and emergency medical technicians to familiarise ourselves with the ambulances, equipment and processes to make sure we can assist in the best way we can.

“The soldiers are ready to begin the task we have been deployed to do in Wales.

“It’s a privilege to be working with our Welsh Ambulance Service colleagues in supporting the NHS in Wales to ease the pressures that currently exist.”

It is the third time that the military have supported the service through the pandemic as part of the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) arrangement.

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More than 200 British Army soldiers have already assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

More broadly, more than 20,000 military personnel have been supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘COVID Support Force.’

(All images: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)

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Charity

Kidney charity continues team expansion with three new appointments

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Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, continues to see further expansion of its team with three new appointments, following a steep increase in demand for its support services.

Among the two new roles are children and youth support coordinator, and support service coordinator, as well as an internal move.

New children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, will be responsible for providing support to children and young people suffering with kidney disease and their families. Part of the role is to engage with key stakeholders in order to develop transition programs, an educational program relating to younger service users moving into adult services.

Additionally, the children and youth support role focuses on developing current services, that will inevitably improve the quality of life of the charity’s beneficiaries. Thomas will be responsible for coordinating activity competitions and fundraisers and regularly producing a KIDS Newsletter, which offers children and families updates and activities.

Kidney support is close to Thomas’ heart because a family member was diagnosed with kidney disease. She found the Paul Popham Fund website when researching kidney disease, trying to find out more about the condition.

Speaking on her new role, children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, said: “I am thrilled to start my post at the Paul Popham Fund. Being involved in promoting the charity’s vision in raising awareness and supporting the community is extremely rewarding, and I’m looking forward to developing and aiding the Children and Youth Services further.”

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The second new appointment is Corrine Bell, the new support service coordinator. Bell has had previous experience in the sector with the St. Johns Ambulance service as a divisional officer.
 

In her new role, Bell will be responsible for providing support and information to those suffering from kidney disease and their families, which is as important as ever as the charity sees increased demand for its services. Bell’s partner is a current transplant patient and has been on dialysis, so she is well aware of the effect the charity has.

Speaking on her new role, Corrine Bell, said: “I am eager to get started with Paul Popham Fund. I know about all the great things they do for the community as my partner is a volunteer, so I’m glad to be a part of such a great cause.”

Joanne Popham, CEO, said: “The organisation is extremely glad to welcome another two new team members. Our continued expansion shows a very promising future for the charity meaning we can help more and more people who are affected by kidney disease.”

The charity has also made an internal move: Anna Powell has moved from Children and Youth Engagement Officer to Volunteer Coordinator. In her new role, Powell is now heavily involved with management and recruitment of volunteers for the charity, while also training existing volunteers.

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With a background in recruitment, this role is perfectly suited to Powell, who will also be responsible for raising awareness in schools.

Anna Powell, Volunteer Coordinator at the Paul Popham Fund, said: “I am very eager to start my new role as Volunteer Coordinator, and get the chance to go to local schools and raise awareness of our ‘Believe in Yourself’ campaign, which has been at the forefront of the charity’s vision.

“Believe in Yourself originates from Paul Popham, who aimed to strive and succeed despite his diagnosis with kidney disease. Its use in school aims to resonate with students whether affected by kidney disease or not, to reinforce the notion of believing that you can do anything, even in the face of adversity.”

Additionally, Powell will also be involved in recruitment for the charity’s Kidney Cafe, fundraisers, ambassadors and peer mentoring service.

(Lead image (left to right): support service coordinator, Corrine Bell, children and youth support coordinator, Nikkila Thomas, and volunteer coordinator, Anna Powell.)

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