Nurse helped expose swindle

Honoured for work with elderly

A Sydney nurse who helped save an elderly patient from a million dollar property swindle has been also commended for her high standard of care.

Ann Kelly, an aged care consultant at Prince of Wales Hospital emergency department, was chosen from 700 nominees to be the NSW representative at the HESTA Australian Nursing Awards.

Ann, who was nominated for the award by her ED colleagues, has been a community nurse with the South Eastern Area Health Service for most of the past 20 years.

Ann did her training in Ireland, had two children and migrated to Australia at the age of 28. She did night duty at Prince Henry Hospital when her kids were young then moved into community nursing.

Colleagues at Prince of Wales ED decided to nominate her for the award after she went out of her way to help an elderly Maroubra woman who arrived at the ED in a confused and anxious state.

Ann was not at the hospital when the woman named Elizabeth came in, but staff noted her condition and Ann, acting on instinct, decided to follow it up.

‘I phoned various services but she wasn’t known to anybody, and the chemist hadn’t known her for long and couldn’t tell me much either,’ Ann said.

‘Eventually I discovered the phone number of a niece. She told me she had never been inside Elizabeth’s flat. She was an eccentric lady who had never married and lived a very private life. She visited her niece twice a year, but would always insist on being picked up at the bus stop.

‘I phoned Elizabeth and convinced her to see me. She said she was hungry so I took her a sandwich, and when I arrived at her house she was still wearing the hospital gown.’

Ann and the niece arranged to visit Elizabeth twice a day. Ann eventually gained Elizabeth’s confidence and arranged services for her.

One day Elizabeth told her nephew she wasn’t sure if she still owned her property, a block of four units. He went to her solicitor who did some searching and discovered that an unscrupulous lawyer and real estate agent had convinced Elizabeth to sell her property for a million dollars below market value.

Elizabeth’s nephew told Ann that, without her intervention, Elizabeth would likely have remained isolated and would surely have been swindled.

Going out of her way to help patients in her own time is not unusual for Ann.

She has taken a housebound patient’s canary to the vet, and once talked a patient into letting her take blood – ‘but only after I promised to bring him four bananas, black Russian bread and washing powder in a green container with five holes on the top. I spent a couple of hours going from one supermarket to another and eventually found it was Ajax he was after.’

Ann said it was an overwhelming feeling to be selected as the NSW finalist in the HESTA awards.

‘I know there are thousands of nurses who deserve this award and to be picked out as somebody special is just amazing,’ she said. ‘A lot of community nurses do far more for their patients than they are expected to do.

‘I was talking to a nurse the other day who had spent the previous two hours mopping someone’s floor because their house was so filthy.’