Beaming as she steps off the elevator and rounds the corner toward the third floor nurses’ station at Powell River General Hospital (PRGH), it becomes immediately clear that Nova Cleghorn is one of those people who brightens up even the most sterile of environments.
“I love nursing, I want to do it well, and I want my colleagues to do it well,” said Cleghorn. “That’s just how I roll.”
Cleghorn’s fellow nurses have been singing her praises for decades, but now more than ever since she took on the role of clinical-nurse educator two years ago.
In June, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) awarded Cleghorn a certificate of merit, recognizing her as an Unsung Hero at its 2017 People First Awards. The honour is peer-nominated and subject to a rigorous points system that whittled 80 nominees down to a select few.
“It is an award that goes to people who contribute every day in some way or another; they fly under the radar and the work they do supports everyone else in doing a great job,” said PRGH acute services manager Corinna Curtis, who is also Cleghorn’s supervisor. “That’s what Nova is. She’s a great motivator and an inspiration to everyone she works with. She makes people want to be better.”
The role of clinical-nurse educator at the hospital is all-encompassing. On any given day, Cleghorn supports nurses in MSP, maternity, ICU and emergency departments as they work through orientation, accreditation, policy and all of the day-to-day duties of the job.
Hospitals in larger urban centres typically have one educator for each unit, but in a rural community with limited medical resources, Cleghorn’s position is one of a kind.
“I was flattered and honoured that somebody would recognize me, but there are a lot of other people in this building who go above and beyond,” said Cleghorn. “Our nurses work at 150 per cent all the time, we really truly do, to keep this hospital going.”
While she inspires others, Cleghorn said she has her own source of inspiration.
“My son, Jordan,” she said. “He’s my hero.”
Cleghorn explained how her approach to nursing was forever altered after spending time at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver while her now 11-year-old son battled a chronic health issue.
“I have lived and experienced the patient perspective,” she said. “I want to make sure that every patient I see or touch I treat like my family, because that is the care I wanted when he was down there,” she said. “That’s my standard and that’s the standard I try to inspire the other nurses to get to.”
Cleghorn travelled to Vancouver on June 21 for a formal celebration hosted by VCH president and CEO Mary Ackenhusen.
Fittingly, she was joined by Curtis, a colleague she has worked with either on the floor or in the office for 15 years and counting.
“We’re just extremely fortunate to have someone like Nova working here, and I know she’s a big part of a lot of things in the community as well,” said Curtis. “She brings a lot everywhere she goes.”