Petra started at Newham University Hospital in 2003 as a healthcare assistant and 18 years later she’s still there, now as a Matron overseeing 5 different wards and approximately 175 staff.
“Back then I wasn’t sure what to expect,” remembers Petra “but the Barts Health NHS Trust believed in me and supported me to do my nurse training, I had some really great role models along the way.”
Petra has worked across all sites that the Trust runs over the years and has worked her way to the position of Matron for Specialist Medicine through hard work and sticking to her values.
“I’ve learnt that my core value is hope,” says Petra “it gets me out of bed, it gives me a positive outlook in life and gives me solutions to all the challenges of the day.
“I feel like I belong here as a nurse. I get a great pleasure from seeing progress and patients getting better, but this was very difficult during the pandemic.”
Petra and her team cared for people on the respiratory ward during the worst days of the Covid-19 pandemic. She says it was a time of such profound sadness but there were moments that stuck in her mind.
“One moment was an elderly woman whose daughter was her main carer,” recalls Petra “The elderly lady was on a ventilator helping her to breathe and her daughter had left her mother’s side to go home and take a break.
“The elderly lady took off her oxygen mask and said she couldn’t do this anymore. We knew at that point she didn’t have long left to live as she was extremely ill. Our hearts just dropped and pleaded with her to hang on. My team immediately contacted the daughter and quickly escorted her through the hospital so she could be at her mother’s side in time to say goodbye. That moment stuck in my mind because we were able to make such a team effort to ensure that important moment happened.”
Petra was nominated by her team for a Cavell Star Award for going above and beyond for her team. Colleague and Ward Manager Fiona Sarpong explains,
“Petra has supported us through thick and thin, she really is our voice and advocates for us. She keeps the team going and makes us strong! She constantly checks our welfare and wellbeing and we look up to her, she is our hero.
“Without Petra most of us would have given up. She encourages and motivates us, she’s like our angel! She deserves recognition as she goes above and beyond all the time for us.”
Petra reacted to winning her award.
“I couldn’t believe it! I don’t make any fuss about me and when people do want to make a fuss about me I don’t take it very well. But it’s such lovely feedback to get from my team knowing that I do make a difference. My nursing is done from the heart and I’m trying to make sure others feel that too.
“My team are like my family in a sense. I say we’re one big dysfunctional family! We all have our problems and everyone is different.
“Managing the respiratory ward through a pandemic was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever experienced, but I learnt a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. I built a really close team and felt like we really made a difference to people’s lives.”