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Jayne Hegarty always knew her calling was to help people and she has done just that over her incredible 45 year career working for Mater where she has helped thousands of babies in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) and assisted in creating a legacy of healthy hearing for Queensland children.
Jayne came to Mater after she finished her secondary education at All Hallows’ School and began her training at Mater Misericordiae Adult and Children’s Hospitals. After completing her Registered Nurse training Jayne worked in Adult Intensive Care prior to moving to the Mater Mothers’ where she did her Midwifery training. It was during this time that she quickly discovered her calling was in the NCCU.
“I really loved working in NCCU and I was fortunate to be granted study leave where I was able to expand my knowledge and skills in child health and neonatal intensive care. I then secured a position as a research assistant in Mater Perinatal Epidemiology Unit working with A/Prof Vicki Flenady, Prof David Tudehope, Dr Peter Steer and others on several Multi-centre randomised control trials,” Jayne said.
“I then became the Coordinator of the Mater Infant Hearing Program where an Audiologist would test all NCCU babies and also well babies with risk factors, however I could see how beneficial it would be to screen the hearing of all babies soon after birth.
Previously parents would have to watch their children for signs they could hear properly but the equipment and technology was available to give parents a definitive answer as to whether their baby was able to hear at levels required to develop normal speech and language skills.”
Following this realisation Jayne became a member of a Working Party which was actively lobbying the Queensland government to implement Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. This quick and simple screen may be performed on babies as early as 12 -24 hrs after birth to screen for possible hearing problems allowing the best chance of early intervention strategies.
The program began in 2004 and continues to screen each baby born in Queensland today. Jayne still plays an active role in the Healthy Hearing Program working at Head Office and Mater providing protocol and database support, training new nurse screeners, establishing referral pathways for children with potential complications and ensuring the equipment used is up to date.
Jayne currently provides advice, training and guidance to staff at 25 hospitals in metropolitan and regional communities across Southern Queensland. Due to upgrades in technology she can now use VNC, webinars and simulation dolls for training purposes ensuring best practice is adhered to.
“These advances in technology mean nurses in regional areas have access to the most up to date training and equipment. The simulation dolls are excellent as there are some hospitals which don’t deliver many babies so there are limited opportunities for practical training,” she said.
Providing new nurses and clinician training has always been a passion of Jayne’s as she can fondly remember how she was welcomed to Mater by the Sisters of Mercy who trained her.
“Sister Angela Mary was a wonderful leader and must be thanked for ensuring that the culture and traditions of the Sisters of Mercy to serve and care for our community by developing world class facilities and excellent training opportunities continue to this day. Sister Madonna Josey (Matron of Mater Adult Hospital) and Sister Jill Stringer (Matron of Mater Mothers’ Hospital) were other significant role models throughout my training.” she said.
“I have been to Baggot Street in Dublin where Catherine McAuley established the Sisters of Mercy. I have always loved working for Mater and I feel as though the organisation has always held true to its values and mission.
“I have always felt Mater is a part of me. The team here have a really strong sense of community and are supportive of one another. This hospital has always been good to me and I would like to encourage all Mater staff to embrace the career enhancement opportunities which come their way.”
Today Jayne still works with Queensland Health as the Southern Area Co-ordinator for the Queensland Healthy Hearing Program and is based at Mater Health Services.
Thanks to Jayne’s efforts she has left a legacy of healthy hearing not just for Mater babies but for all Queensland children.
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