One year on ...
Subject: Nursing services (Forecasts and trends)
Nursing services (Social aspects)
Disaster victims (Care and treatment)
Disaster victims (Social aspects)
Hospitals (Central service department)
Hospitals (Forecasts and trends)
Hospitals (Social aspects)
Authors: Manchester, Anne
OConnor, Teresa
Pub Date: 02/01/2012
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Feb, 2012 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Name: Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquake, 2011 Event Code: 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks; 290 Public affairs Computer Subject: Market trend/market analysis
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 282425941

Ten thousand aftershocks later, Cantabrians are still coping with the devastation caused by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck at 12.51 pm on February 22 last year, and subsequent significant quakes. Lives have been changed forever. Christchurch% health services have also changed forever, with ongoing reconfigurations, repairs and closures. The psychological impact of the ongoing quakes is taking its toll on the community, and nurses are not immune. Despite this, they are continuing to provide outstanding care and commitment, according to Canterbury District Health Board's chief executive David Meates.

Most people in New Zealand are aware that 184 people died as a result of the February 22 earthquake last year; far fewer realise that more than 6500 people were injured in that quake, three of them paralysed.

One of those left paralysed from the waist down is 53-year-old nurse Bev Edwards who had been having Lunch with her mother and a friend in a Sydenham cafe when the quake struck. She stood up to push her mother out of the way when the table upturned and a beam came down on top of her. She knew immediately her back had been broken; in addition she had a ruptured spleen, a torn diaphragm, 10 fractured ribs and a punctured lung. A woman sitting at the table next to them was killed, while those seated on the other side of the care walked out with the mental trauma of what they had seen and experienced.

"I was pulled out from the rubble by a shop employee from across the road," said Edwards. "Fortunately, he respected my statement about my broken back and arranged for me to be carried out on a door. I was taken by helicopter to Christchurch Hospital where I had my diaphragm repaired and a splenectomy. After I was stabilised, I was transported to Wellington Hospital where I spent three and a half weeks, my care and treatment carried out in partnership with staff at Burwood Hospital I was the first patient from an outlying hospital to get to Burwood, where I was a patient for the next four months."

Following her discharge from hospital, Edwards spent the following five months Living in a motel while her house was modified so she could return home. During this time she paid extra so her daughter and daughters partner could live with her for emotional and physical support, as she Learnt to Live outside a hospital again. At this time she began intensive rehabilitation at St George's Southern Institute. Because of the nature of her injury, she has two years to get back whatever functionality she can.

Edwards has nursed all her life and, before the accident, worked for 24 years full time at the Barrington Medical Centre, as well as two shifts a week as an acute demand nurse at the Pegasus 24-Hour Surgery. Thanks to an ACC back-to-work programme, she has been working at the medical centre since the end of August for about nine hours each week. This has allowed her greater independence and social interaction, and is giving her the opportunity to return to some form of normality. "I am just so grateful for the amazing support I have received over the past year from my co-workers and friends within the nursing and medical communities. Thanks to their on-going support and the support of patients, my nursing is even more enjoyable." Being able to work again has kept her sane while she has continued with intensive physiotherapy, working at her home gym, and swimming three times a week to strengthen her body.

Edwards has some slight movement in her left leg and is currently wearing a leg splint. Although she knows she will never walk again, she is hoping she will gain the ability to stand without support. "Being able to stand and use my arms would be really wonderful."

Meanwhile, her nursing scope of practice has been adapted to fit her abilities. "I am mostly doing recall and phone triage work, but hope I will gradually be able to build up my hours and responsibilities as I feet safe. I can no longer multi-task as I used to--everything just takes so tong when you are in a wheelchair. I have had to change the way I do things and work much more creatively. In a few weeks I will be taking part in an immunisation update. I suspect I will find mixing with a large group of colleagues rather challenging."

Edwards has some more surgery coming up which she is not looking forward to, primarily because it will mean having to take six weeks off work. "Work is keeping me motivated. I love the adrenalin rush of dealing with patients."

Regaining independence is a huge and important step for Edwards, made difficult white there is still no sign of a specialty adapted vehicle and having to rely on booking taxis in advance to ensure she can get to where she needs to be. Edwards also believes a huge challenge faced by all those who have been injured in the quakes are the on-going costs of living with life-changing injuries, especially those not covered by ACC. She would like to see much more help coming through for those who have been injured and disabled.

White not taking away from any of the pain or suffering experienced by others through this national disaster, she has found it hard to understand, in some situations, why the children of those who have been severely injured are not eligible for education grants, white the children with a parent killed are. "My children have a life sentence they have to face and deal with for the rest of their lives, just like many others who have been hugely affected.

"I know, however, I must relax and enjoy my family and new grandson, born in tale November. I don't feel any anger about what happened to me--that's just wasted emotion. But I do get frustrated about what I can't do; fortunately, there are still plenty of good things to live for."

Stories by co-editors Anne Manchester and Teresa O'Connor
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.