World-class care at Tairawhiti – The Gisborne Herald


Posted on September 21, 2021 at 1:26 p.m.

Gretel McKenzie, Gastrointestinal Surgery Cancer Nurse Coordinator at Hauora Tairawhiti, is grateful to be working within a team of skilled and passionate nurses and physicians.

“I work in a world class hospital with world class people in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancer,” she says.

“I’ve worked in a world-class hospital in England before and as far as the gastrointestinal service goes, we’ve replicated that here in Gisborne.”

Gretel helps Gisborne Hospital patients with suspected or confirmed cancer navigate their treatment journey.

Before even meeting a patient, Gretel works behind the scenes on their behalf, ensuring that referrals and appointments are passed on to the healthcare system.

The first time she meets a patient is often soon after they’ve had an endoscopy or colonoscopy to see what might be causing their symptoms – whether it’s abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding from the bottom or weight loss.

“Everyone reacts differently. We all treat things in different ways.

Gretel, a former theater nurse, says there are two important messages to get across right now.

“I tell patients that I am their person and I commend them for listening to their bodies and taking the necessary steps to get here today.

As Gastrointestinal Surgery Nurse Coordinator, Gretel works alongside patients with potential cancer of the esophagus, stomach, intestine, colon or rectum.

“I’m like ‘let’s take it one step at a time. We’re just putting all the information together, but you came looking for answers and it was the right thing to do ”.

After the results of the endoscopy or colonoscopy are returned, Gretel hosts a video conference with a multidisciplinary team that includes pathologists, oncologists, surgeons and clinical nurse specialists based in Waikato and Gisborne to help create the course of care. for each patient.

Gretel pays tribute to the group of highly skilled people who surround each patient as they go for medical treatment (medicine, chemotherapy or radiation therapy) or surgery.

“There are so many people in this department who are committed and insightful in the cancer treatment journey.

“The offices of the cancer care coordinators are close to each other and we constantly share our know-how.

Gretel also works with four surgeons and two clerks, visiting oncologists who divide their time between the Waikato District Health Board and Gisborne, and seven nurses from the day medical unit who care for patients receiving chemotherapy and other medications. .

The team has ample access to continuing education, says Gretel.

They are all motivated and inspired and while some may think this could be a job filled with sadness, most of them are not.

“It’s not just bad results.

“Every day that you work with someone with cancer, you have another opportunity to improve their life, which makes the job interesting. “

Gretel’s bond with gastrointestinal cancer patients is very personal, as she lost her mother and uncle to bowel cancer.

She and her five siblings (Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Tainui) benefit from colon cancer screening every five years.

When not working, Gretel is never far from the latest research in gastrointestinal cancer.

She reviews new articles and books with a particular interest in cancer prevention lifestyle options for Maori and others at higher risk.

A strong supporter of New Zealand’s bowel screening program, Gretel says she now sees people who may have caught their cancer at an early stage.

“These are people who walked around the community and didn’t know they had the symptoms until they got their test,” she says. “They got the results and came to see us for the next step. For this they are to be commended.

RELATED TO PATIENTS: Gretel McKenzie, Hauora Tairawhiti Gastrointestinal Cancer Surgery Nurse Coordinator, is a strong supporter of New Zealand’s Bowel Screening Program. The program means she is now seeing people who may have caught their cancer at an early stage. Photo provided

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