Nurse honoured for ‘instrumental’ work in coronavirus pandemic response
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 October 2020
A Rainham nurse has been awarded an MBE for her “instrumental” efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mum-of-two Michele Elliot, who works for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), was among those included on the delayed Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The divisional director of nursing for emergency care and anaesthetics was “instrumental” in ensuring there were enough critical care beds, equipment and staff to care for seriously ill patients during the pandemic, according to a BHRUT spokesperson.
Michele admitted planning for the pandemic had been difficult and that there was alot of anxiety among staff beforehand.
She said: “So many people worked so hard, and I couldn’t have done it without everyone else so I feel this is for all of us.
“I’ve worked during major incidents before and they usually last between 24 to 72 hours, so the adrenaline gets you through.
“Covid was much harder as it’s been over a long period. It has brought us together as we all have something in common.
“It’s been stressful for everyone in different ways.”
It’s not the first major emergency that the King Edward Avenue resident has worked through.
Before joining BHRUT two years ago, Michele worked at Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel, and St Mary’s Hospital, in Paddington, and treated patients from the London Bridge terror attack in 2017.
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She was also on shift during the Grenfell Tower fire in the same year, adding: “That was really different to the terrorist attack, we had people pouring into the hospital with pictures of their loved ones. It was emotionally challenging for a lot of people.”
Her mum was a healthcare assistant but Michele initially didn’t think nursing was the career for her.
She lived in the US for seven years before returning with her young daughter and, at the age of 28, then began her nursing career.
Michele, who trained with BHRUT, said: “I really enjoy being around people and caring for them.
“When people need care, it’s an important time in their lives and I think it’s a privilege to be part of that.”
Michele has also volunteered in Gaza where she cared for people in 2014, and in Nepal after a 2015 earthquake that killed and injured thousands.
“I was working on a spinal injury rehab unit in Nepal and we had a little girl who had broken her back,” she recalled.
“One day I went out and got some nail varnish so I could polish her nails to cheer her up. Before I knew it, the entire ward had pink nails.
“I enjoy helping in these circumstances and find that, like during major incidents, the adrenaline gets you through.
“What I really enjoyed while volunteering was giving hands-on care again, as a change from managing teams in my usual role.
“I’ve been extremely lucky with the opportunities I’ve had in my career.”
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