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Simple appeal of complex care

By Josh Jennings

Overseeing a geriatric unit calls on a diverse range of nursing experience, writes Josh Jennings.

The most exceptional patient outcome nurse Esselina Shergis remembers being involved with concerned a man who arrived in intensive care after having a heart attack.

The hospital staff decided the man's condition was terminal and moved him to palliative care, but then Shergis and colleagues observed his eyes flicker.

"In the medical field, if a doctor tells you a patient's dying, you accept it ... But because we made sure [the patient] was well managed and he had the right antibiotics and an opportunity to declare himself, the doctors came on board very quickly. They, too, could see he was making gains." The man returned to work five months later.

Today, Shergis is the nurse unit manager at Victoria's Angliss Hospital. She works on the geriatric evaluation and management unit, which houses older patients with complex care issues. "I'm very interested in complex care," she says. "I have a great interest in pharmacy, and the interactions medications have with each other, and how effective the medications we give patients are."

Shergis's responsibilities include managing staff absences to ensure the ward is appropriately staffed, checking on patients, attending patient handovers, supporting ward staff with patient care and medication delivery, and partaking in quality and budget management.

She began the role a little more than a month ago, having spent the previous eight years as a nurse unit manager on the acute stroke and gastroenterology general medicine ward at Maroondah Hospital.

"I was looking for a change and keen to offer my expertise in other areas," she says. "I set up a whole stroke unit last year and I felt it was time to let somebody else take over the reins and see if they could keep up the momentum. This position at the
Angliss is in aged care, which I've worked in before, and I saw a challenge."

The transition between roles has been smooth, Shergis says. "I've been touched by the senior management at the Angliss, who have supported my transition and some of the new ideas I've brought across," she says. Shergis graduated as a nurse from
Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital in 1979. She has since enjoyed a diverse career across various settings and specialities, and her enthusiasm for her career has been infectious.

"My son ... became a nurse and is a manager at Maroondah Hospital in the operating suite ... He has chosen to follow in my footsteps but also be within Eastern Health. My daughter is in research at Box Hill Hospital - Eastern Health - and completing her PhD this year."

Shergis says she hopes to continue her career for at least a decade. "I'm getting older, but I think I've got a lot to give here. I think it would be another three to five years before I get this ward up and running to what I want it to be ... the best geriatric assessment and evaluation unit in Melbourne."


Published: 13 October 2012

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