Castlemaine drug and alcohol nurse gets recognition

A CASTLEMAINE drug and alcohol nurse says she is humbled to be named a finalist in the 2013 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards.

Castlemaine District Community Health withdrawal nurse Janet Lees is one of five people to be shortlisted for the Nurse of the Year, which will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on May 9.

The award recognises a nurse, midwife, personal care attendant and assistant in nursing who has made an exceptional contribution to improving patient care, shown advocacy on behalf of patients or the nursing profession or delivered health care in challenging circumstances.

Mrs Lees was nominated because of her numerous successes in improving her clients’ health and wellbeing, helping them to withdraw from alcohol and drugs while assisting them with other services.

She said she was shocked to find out she had been nominated for the prestigious award. 

“I hope my nomination highlights substance use and the problems it causes and also that it broadens people’s views of why people turn to substances to manage their life,” she said. 

Mrs Lees worked as a nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital before moving to Castlemaine Health 34 years ago. She attained a certificate in mental health and alcohol and other drugs through TAFE in 2010 and took on the role as withdrawal nurse shortly after.

She said her role with drug and alcohol-affected patients had been some of the most worthwhile work in her career.

“It’s very rewarding because you are able to see the difference you make by helping them relieve some of the chaos in their life,” she said. 

“In hospitals, people come in and are unwell. They either improve enough to go home or don’t.

“This is different. My clients amaze me every day with their resilience and courage.”

Mrs Lees said she was looking forward to attending the awards ceremony and meeting the other nominees.

“It will be a really good chance to have a talk to some inspiring nurses,” she said.

SMILES: Castlemaine District Community Health withdrawal nurse Janet Lees has been rewarded for her hard work in her profession. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

SMILES: Castlemaine District Community Health withdrawal nurse Janet Lees has been rewarded for her hard work in her profession. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY