Coronary care was Brenda’s passion

Brenda Kay Clarke

Nurses at Bellingen Hospital mourned the recent loss of Brenda Clarke who brought so much knowledge and experience to this rural hospital with her skills in coronary care.

Brenda undertook her general nurse training at Sydney Hospital from 1976-1979. On completion she worked as a RN for a year at Royal Hobart Hospital.

She completed her midwifery training in 1980-1981 at the Lyall McEwan Hospital in Elizabeth, South Australia, and later worked in its Coronary Care Unit – an area that was to become her niche.

In 1982 Brenda moved back to Sydney, working at Ryde and Marrickville hospitals in intensive care, acute care and coronary care. She had a passion for caring for patients with acute life threatening illnesses and to further her career she enrolled in the intensive care course at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. After completing the course in 1987 she started work at Westmead Hospital on the surgical ward where she relieved the NUM.

After two years at Westmead Brenda applied for a NUM’s position in the medical-surgical ward at St David’s Private Hospital in Eastwood, where she worked for seven years.

Brenda decided a sea change was needed and moved to Woy Woy where she worked at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital in the Coronary Care Unit from 1996-2003. During this time she found her soul mate Kel and they married and decided to move to Urunga and build a house on Newry Island.

Brenda started working at Bellingen Hospital in 2003 as a casual and this soon led to a permanent part time position. She was always willing to share her wealth of experience and we were always grateful for her assistance and advice with interpretation of ECGs.

Brenda was confident and competent and found it difficult to put up with some of our ‘frequent flyers’. Brenda didn’t suffer fools or freeloaders who would bear the brunt of her triage assessment. Peering over her glasses she was often telling our doctors what to do and had the ability to correct their diagnosis. However under that skin she was a very generous and kind person. She had a wonderful sense of humour and was always at staff parties (sometimes with Kel) thoroughly enjoying herself but always tried to avoid the lurking cameras – there are many photos of her with her head down or an arm across her face.

Brenda was on her way to work a night shift when she had a cardiac arrest and was subsequently resuscitated and airlifted to Westmead Hospital. It is with our deepest regret that Brenda (surrounded by her family) never recovered and died on Sunday 23 July 2006.

Her family, friends and colleagues at Bellingen Hospital mourn her passing and the nursing profession has lost a most valued member.

By Valmai Sims, NUM, Bellingen Hospital