BYE BYE BADGES: Retiring nursing unit managers Sheryl Rogan, left and Amy Lowe give their identity cards the flick on their last day at Grafton Base Hospital.
BYE BYE BADGES: Retiring nursing unit managers Sheryl Rogan, left and Amy Lowe give their identity cards the flick on their last day at Grafton Base Hospital. Tim Howard

Best friends take next step together

IN THE combined 76 years they worked together at Grafton Base Hospital Sheryl Rogan and Amy Lowe forged a great partnership.

Ms Rogan, the nursing unit manager in emergency for 29 years and Amy Lowe, who has been the nursing unit manager in surgical services at Grafton and Maclean for the past 30 years, retired last week, in the same way they have spent much of their working life: together.

"We've been each other's best friend for most of the time we've been at the hospital, Ms Rogan said.

Both began training at Grafton: Ms Lowe in 1970 and Ms Rogan in 1977.

"I was away between 1973 and 1984,” Ms Lowe said.

Ms Rogan started a bit later, beginning her training at Grafton in 1977.

"Except for three years as a midwife, I”ve been here for 39 years,” she said.

"I'll have been the NUM in theatre for 27 years, this weekend.”

Both women commented on the enormous changes in their professions, that have occurred during their careers, agreeing it has largely been for the better.

"The technology that's available now enables us to do things we could only have dreamed about when we started,” Ms Lowe said.

"When we started everything was put down on paper, now it's all computerised. Its streamlined so much of that sort of work.”

The training of nurses changed considerably during their careers.

"Nurses now come out of college with qualifications,” Ms Lowe said.

"When we started it was more an apprenticeship where you learned your job hands on.”

Both women agreed there was a time when the college system was not producing graduates with the skill and attitudes needed for the job, but this had changed.

"They seem to be getting the balance right now with graduates coming into hospitals with enough practical experience to balance the theory,” sais Ms Rogan.

Both have also presided over periods of tremendous growth as restructures in the area health service in past two decades transformed the hospital.

Ms Rogan said in her section the number of theatres had grown from two to three and Ms Lowe had seen her department grow from a five-bed service to 21 treatment stations.

"It's been a phenomenal change,” Ms Lowe said.

She said mental health becoming part of emergency had been one of the biggest changes she had been part of.

"It was one of the biggest improvements in surgical services,” she said.

It has been part of a trend in the hospital system where different departments work more closely to care for patients.

"Patients would come to surgery and be always waiting to see someone,” she said.

"Now you come in and people are able to see you and take you through different areas. Patients really appreciate that.

"It's more of a one-stop-shop approach.”

She said the shortcomings now with patient treatment were more in follow-up services.

"There are not enough community services to provide patients with follow up care once they leave hospital,” Ms Rogan said.

The pair were not sure how they would feel waking up this week, knowing they don't have to come to work.

"It's a bit surreal thinking what it's going to be like,” Ms Lowe said.

"We're leaving our work families to go back to our real families.”

They agreed retirement was "the right move”.

"I comfortable we've left emergency and surgical services in good hands. Very comfortable

Ms Rogan said she would begin her "second job” almost immediately.

"We've got a very drought stricken property up river that's needing some care and attention,” she said.

Ms Lowe's ambitions were less stressful, looking forward to some reading, gardening and baby sitting of grand children.

Both said the hospital wards had not seen the last of them.

"We're both down for casual shifts, which after years in managerial roles, we looking forward to doing shifts using our clinical skills,” Ms Rogan said.

And they're developing a pact that should allow them time to share a "glass of champers or two.”

"My mum drives Sheryls mum to church every Wednesday,” Ms Lowe said.

"I can't see why we couldn't enjoy a champers or two when that happens.”