Nurse leaves lasting impact in 50-year career

One of West Moreton Health’s top nurses has retired after five decades in nursing.

A wicked sense of humour, a no-nonsense approach, as well warmth and care for her team, are some of the trademark characteristics that will be most missed when Surgery and Perioperative Nursing Director Cath Love signs off on a distinguished career.

Ms Love said a long-term career in nursing was not on the agenda when she started her nursing training at St Margaret’s Hospital in Sydney in 1970.

“When I was growing up, women had to quit their jobs when they got married, so I assumed it would be the same for me,” Ms Love said.

“But the rules changed, and I became a working mother of two.’’

She credits her manager midwife Margaret Macarthur – one of two great female mentors who “made her who she is today” – for helping her forge a rewarding and long-lasting profession.

“I wanted to be an enrolled nurse, but she said, ‘you’re not doing that!’ and helped me fill out all my applications for general nursing,” Ms Love said.

Ms Love worked in medical and surgical wards at St Vincent’s Private Hospital (Sydney), Mater Private Hospital Brisbane, Logan Hospital as well as the Clinical Assess and Redesign Unit and the Healthcare Improvement Unit in the Department of Health.

As a Nurse Unit Manager at Logan Hospital, Ms Love completed her nursing degree before leading numerous Queensland Health projects to standardise clinical practice across the state.

She lists the creation of a handheld pregnancy record, which was implemented across 41 maternity services to record women’s medical and social history during pregnancy, as one of her greatest achievements.

“That system is still used today and when I see that blue folder in a line of women attending antenatal clinics, it makes me proud to think it helps mothers to carry their own records and stops duplication during their care,” Ms Love said.

Ms Love joined West Moreton Health in 2014 to implement changes to reduce surgery long waits, which her team achieved and maintained for more than five years.

She lists her final position as her career highlight but will also remember the pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its direct impact on staff, as the hardest times of her career.

“I’ve been in nursing for 50 years and my time leading the Surgery and Perioperative department at Ipswich Hospital has been my best role,” Ms Love said.

“I’ve loved every minute of it. I have an incredible ‘can do’ team who care so much about me and support me – and that’s a two-way street.

“The surgical team care about the West Moreton community, and they want people to have their surgery in the allocated timeframe and to have the safest possible outcome for their health.”

Ms Love said she hoped her leadership and mentoring of others would have a lasting impact on nurses.

“I have made some big decisions for the organisation,” Ms Love said.

“I am not backward in coming forward. I talk up for the safety of others and I talk up for the service and fight for the service.

“It’s important to me to share my skills and knowledge with others and I hope I have been able to inspire other nurses to be a leader like me.’’

West Moreton Health chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman and Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery Karyn Ehren thanked Ms Love for her dedicated service.

“Cath is a leader who has inspired and encouraged so many around her,’’ Dr Freeman said.

“She will be greatly missed but leaves a notable legacy at West Moreton Health.’’

Ms Ehren described Ms Love as a passionate mentor.

“Cath is a great advocate of the health service, a friend to many and a formidable nursing force,” Ms Ehren said.

“Our nursing staff, and the wider team, are indebted to Cath for the skills and knowledge she has so readily shared with those around her.

“Thank you, Cath, we wish you all the best in retirement.’’

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