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In 2014, after 38 years on the job, Patricia Ramsay who started her nursing journey at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) as a student nurse in 1976, officially hung up her cap. Patricia has worked throughout the hospital in numerous specialty areas, but it was the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) that will forever hold a place in her heart.
“I didn’t actually want to be a nurse at first, I wanted to be a police officer,” was the surprising reply when asked why she chose the nursing profession. “I wanted a job where I was able to work with people, but most of all I wanted to wear a uniform,” she continued. However, her grandparents were against her aspirations to become a police officer. “When I had my first child, I was a patient on Ward B2, and I saw the work ethic and skills of the nurses, and that is what jumpstarted me into the nursing career… the nurses were so elegant and clean and it instantly drew me in.” From there on, Patricia pursued a career in nursing, and is now celebrating her 46th year in the profession.
One day, while assigned to Ward C12, Nurse Ramsay was called to the office of the Senior Nursing Officer, where she was informed that she would be reassigned to Paediatric Ward C8. This was her first step into the world of paediatric nursing. “It was a hard place to work,” she says, “there was no room for error.” Despite this, she enjoyed the intensity and perfection that working in the Paediatrics Department required. However, with the opening of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) on Tuesday, 16th September, 1997, the magnitude of her workload increased and her skillset was tested as she and other nurses were assigned to the new specialty unit.
Her move to the PICU challenged her like no other, as most of her training was on the job. “There are a lot of firsts for Pat Ramsay in the PICU … Ventilators. I knew nothing about them.” Her first time caring for a patient on a ventilator in the PICU will stay with her forever. “It was a tearful evening for me because I was uncertain of what to do, and I kept clashing with the doctors, but eventually a nurse from NICU came and showed me what to do,” Patricia recalled cheerfully. It was not only learning about the new technology that proved a challenge, Nurse Ramsay explained that it was tough caring for patients she knew weren’t going to make it. “You have to be especially empathetic when communicating with not only the mothers and fathers, but other relatives as well.” Despite the hard work and long hours, she recalled that the harmony and synergy of the paediatrics team back then made life easier, admitting that she wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
Four years after her retirement in 2014, Patricia received a phone call from Dr. Clyde Cave, the current acting Director of Medical Services, inviting her to participate in the Hearing Screening Programme for newborns. Since then, Nurse Ramsay has been working as a sessional nurse on Ward B3, where she conducts hearing tests on newborns. “I do more than the hearing screening of the newborns, I am able to observe the mothers to see how I can assist them, and if there are any problems, I inform the ward nurse who would then further help her.”
Not only has Patricia Ramsay offered her services as a nurse to Barbados, but since 1999, she has been working as a missionary, providing free medication, and facilitating medical clinics in villages throughout African nations such as the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of South Africa. These opportunities her nursing career afforded her have made her acquire a newfound respect for both the QEH and Barbados. “Some of the medical procedures we do here can’t be done in a lot of other countries, so it makes me very proud of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”