Published Wednesday 11 Jan 2023

Appreciation is wonderful … especially when given to our well-deserving staff

Recently discharged patient Tony Simatos has a message for those who don’t know what it’s like to be working in a medical environment – show appreciation.

Tony was admitted into Hutt Hospital’s Older Persons and Rehabilitation Services (OPRS West) for rehabilitation over four months ago due to an infection that left him severely deconditioned. He was bedridden, unable to walk or stand, and on top of that he caught COVID-19.

In his own words, “I was in a pretty bad way”.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t in a good place,” he said.

“I had no strength in me and the worst of it was I couldn’t walk. It was a pretty horrible time for me.”

However, that ‘horrible time’ turned quickly into a time of “joy and amazing connections” for Tony, as the physios worked off their feet to get him back on his, leaving him in awe.

“They did an amazing job, they honestly did. The staff here are amazing and eventually helped me to regain my strength to walk. But for me, it was the way they went about it all. They really get stuck in here and connect with you. They work closely with you and it’s across the board, from Occupational Therapists to Physiotherapists, nurses, everybody. It’s a whole team effort.”

To show his gratitude, Tony threw an ‘Appreciation Day’ on his final day in hospital, in honour of all the staff who helped him recover, and for the hard work and care he saw them give to all patients.

He had a table set out filled with treats such as chocolates, cupcakes and fruits for the staff to enjoy throughout the day.

“When you’re here for such a length of time like I was, you connect with people. You form some really good relationships. You also get to see the hard work they do. It’s really amazing. That’s why I am doing this, because I experienced a great deal of support and help from the staff and I really connected with a lot of people. This is just a way to show my appreciation.”

Hutt Hospital’s Associate Clinical Nurse Manager OPRS West, Cathie Verkade, was just as appreciative of Tony’s efforts to show his gratitude towards staff.

“It feels really great to have this done for you. Tony has worked really hard to recover and it’s great to see him going home being so well. That improvement with patients is why we all here choose to work in rehab, but it is really special that he has gone above and beyond to acknowledge all the efforts staff have made.”

Tony believes there’s some negativity around ongoing pressures across the health system since COVID-19, but he hopes people will follow his lead and start showing more appreciation for what clinical and allied health professionals do every day to support patients and whānau.

“Being a patient and seeing first-hand how tirelessly the staff work together to make sure all the patients are cared for was amazing. I think it’s important to respect the staff as much as possible even though you might be going through a hard time yourself as a patient. I encourage others to take a minute to see the pressures these people face in their professional lives because it’s a bloody tough job. It’s a job that some people don’t want to do and it’s definitely not always easy when caring for a range of patients with different and often changing needs.”

Tony said he was relieved to be going home finally but in the same token was sad because he will miss the times with the really good friends he made.

“I’m no doubt going to miss everyone here, but I will go away thankful and full of appreciation.”