On December 31, 2011 our colleague, mentor and friend Laurie Anne O’Brien retired after a nursing career of over 38 years. On this occasion of her retirement, we would like to share with you all some of the many highlights of Laurie Anne’s wonderful career.
After only two years as a staff nurse at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital in St. John’s, NL, Laurie Anne’s potential was recognized by her administrators and she was asked to join a committee working on establishing palliative and end of life care services. In 1978, Laurie Anne was sent to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal to study and train at one of the first comprehensive Palliative Care services in Canada. She returned home to help open and lead the first Palliative Care Unit in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1979. Under her guidance an interdisciplinary team of Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers, Spiritual Care Workers and others, was formed to provide care which would enhance the quality of living for patients near the end of life and their families.
Laurie Anne was the first Palliative Care Consult Nurse in Newfoundland and Labrador and worked closely with Physicians and Administrators to establish a Palliative Care/Pain and Symptom Management Consult Service. She developed and implemented a nurse consultant service in acute care 1993-1996. Also under Laurie Anne’s guidance and direction a volunteer program was established for the Palliative Care Unit in St. John’s, and specific Palliative Care training was developed and provided for these volunteers.
Laurie Anne has worked tirelessly as an advocate for Palliative and End of Life Care regionally, provincially and nationally, and has been very involved in educating other professionals and members of the public for many years. Laurie Anne has represented Newfoundland and Labrador on associations/committees/projects that developed the first National Hospice Palliative Care Norms of Practice, Hospice Palliative Care Accreditation Standards, Hospice Palliative Care Nursing Standards, Canadian Nurses Association Hospice Palliative Care Certification Exam, and the National Advance Care Planning Initiative. She has worked on a national level as Co-Chair of Health Canada Best Practice Palliative and End of Life Care Committee.
Laurie Anne has been co-founder, president and mentor for our Newfoundland and Labrador Palliative Care Association. Her work with the Association was exceptional, helping with every aspect and always going the extra mile. She has been an inspiration for many of us who continue to walk in her footsteps.
She has received numerous awards, including the Albert Rodgers Award (St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital), National Award of Excellence in Palliative Care (CHPCA 2001), Health Care Corporation of St. John’s BRAVO Award, Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and the NL Order of The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem (2009).
As Laurie Anne retires from her current position as Regional Manager/Consultant with the Eastern Health Regional Palliative and End of Life Care Leadership Team and manager of the Palliative Care Unit in St John’s, we thank Laurie Anne for her dedication, contribution, and friendship over the years. We have been blessed to have had the privilege to work with you, learn from you, and to call you “friend”.
Take a BOW dear friend - you have earned it.