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Meet the 2022 HESTA Nursing and Midwifery Awards finalists

HESTA has announced its finalists for the Nursing & Midwifery Awards 2022 to shine a light on ordinary people doing extraordinary things in our health system. 

Nursing Review spoke to the finalists and dove deeper into the trio's lives to find out about the personal side of their work.

Sue Hegarty, Karen Bellamy and Talay Quinlan have dedicated their careers to helping people, yet each has an expertise and passion of their own. (All images supplied.)

Talay Quinlan – Micah Projects

Talay is an embedded clinical domestic violence nurse from West End Queensland who goes above and beyond for her patients. 

In 2021, she established the 'Clinical Nurse Partnerships – Domestic Violence' project, providing women access to direct nursing care, immediate health assessment, education and help navigate the health system.

"I was really honoured to be provided with the opportunity to work on the new Micah project created by St Vincent's Healthcare Australia," Talay says.

"I feel lucky to have linkages with other services to provide and advocate for these women, so they receive the detrimental health care they deserve."

Coming from a long line of nurses, she naturally followed in their footsteps.

"It was strange because Clinical Domestic Violence isn't necessarily a specialty in the nursing world. I guess I've created its own little specialty now," she says.

"I'm in a unique position because I'm a community-based nurse allowing women and children to access primary healthcare services while living in short-term crisis accommodations, such as motels and public housing.

"Seeing their fight and drive just pushes me to come to work each day."

A recent success story is still fresh in her mind: a woman from a refugee background who'd been taken off her visa.

"She was homeless and pregnant with a two-year-old, without access to healthcare services or an income," Talay shares.

"We were able to provide more support services, and now she's housed, got a Medicare card through a new visa and had a healthy baby.

"We link people with numerous community supports, like mums-and-bumps groups, so they feel more connected to society."

Talay aims to continue working on the project in the upcoming years while also expanding her team. 

"I am the only domestic violence clinical nurse in Micah Projects and Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, so I'm hoping to extend this project and create a team of other nurses to improve health care services for those in need."

Talay has many hobbies, ranging from boxing to dancing, and loves being a mom. 

Karen Bellamy – Monash Health

With over 25 years of experience in immunisation, Karen Bellamy is currently the Monash Health Coordinator for the COVID-19 Victorian Specialist Immunisation Services (VicSIS).

During the national rollout of the vaccinations, she worked on the front lines and is recognised for her leadership and unyielding dedication. 

"It was a seven day a week job, on-call, advising as soon as the vaccine was rolled out," Karen says.

"It was unbelievably stressful. I was incredibly torn in every direction and I was on a lot.

"But because it's such a passion of mine, I enjoyed it and I felt like I didn't want to miss out on being part of it. So there are no regrets about it at all."

A personal experience in her past inspired her to specialise in immunisation nursing.

"I got very sick with whooping cough as an adult when my daughter was very little, and she and other family members got very sick," Karen shares.

"I had to have brain surgery, neurosurgery and was in ICU for quite some time." 

Afterwards, she realised a need for education in the immunisation space and wanted to spread awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases.

"It's not that people don't want to be vaccinated; it's because they're unaware of its need," Karen says.

"There's a lack of knowledge of adult vaccination, which sparks the intense interest in immunisation.

"It's also about protecting the vulnerable, who are not necessarily able to protect themselves."

Her undergraduate experience has always stuck with her and now influences how she interacts with junior staff. 

It has also shaped her love for education and nursing – passions she hopes to continue to pursue in the future.

"A PhD might be something that would be of interest to me in the future," Karen says.

"But first, things should calm down a bit after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and let it get back to usual."

Karen enjoys going for runs and will be married soon in New York! 

Sue Hegarty – Ovarian Cancer Australia

Sue Hegarty has worked tirelessly in her 26-year career in cancer nursing to support women with ovarian cancer.

She developed programs offered through Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA), which attracted millions of dollars in funding and pioneered Australia's first ovarian cancer telehealth program. 

"I'm so passionate about what we can do to support people with the disease and ease that burden that they experience," Sue says.

"My role is to ensure that we have the assets to work alongside the hospital staff to support these women."

Sue has always been passionate about nursing and the passing of a close family member due to ovarian cancer drew her towards her specialisation. 

"My mom is a nurse and I always wanted to be a nurse. So when I was a little girl, I used to practise on dolls and go into the nursing homes with her and help her out giving out meals."

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest female cancer, with a five-year survival rate of just 48 per cent.

Sue has supported many women living through their most challenging times during her career and they often inspired her. 

"There was one lady who said, "Ovarian cancer has changed my life, and although this is a really difficult experience, I know it's enriched my life"," Sue says. 

"I think that sense of purpose that she had despite living with a terminal illness was one of the most empowering moments for me.

"To say that despite the immense grief and sadness about living with advanced cancer, that being given that opportunity to advocate and improve the system for women in the future, stands out to me."

She also hopes to improve the psychosocial impact it has on women living with the disease.

"I hope to achieve increased research funding that leads to improved survival rates and that there are more options for treatment for women with the disease," she says.

"And to give them the best support to get them through this difficult time while having treatment."

Sue loves attending music festivals, eating out and going away with her three children.

"I think what I've learned doing this work is to just value every day and appreciate your good health and fortune."

The winners of the HESTA Nursing and Midwifery will be announced on May 19.

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