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Concord Burns Unit farewells long-serving nurse leader

Bon Voyage Chris Parker

December 2020

Concord Burns Unit farewells long-serving nurse leader

Concord Burns Unit farewells long-serving nurse leader

Chris Parker is saying farewell.

"After 20 years I've said goodbye to my burns family," she said.

Since 2001, Chris has worked at the Burns Unit at Concord Hospital rising to become the Nursing Unit Manager (NUM) responsible for overseeing nursing staff and patient care.

"It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with each and every one of you. I am so proud of you all and the wonderful care our multidisciplinary team provides to our patients," she said.

The 10-bed Unit is part of the NSW Statewide Severe Burn Injury Service for adults with burn injuries and other skin loss conditions.

During Chris' time leading the nursing team, the Unit has expanded to meet an increase in the number of patients needing care for burns injuries.

It now includes a Skin Laboratory set up in 2001, a burns operating theatre which was established in 2007, the Burn Scar Clinic which opened in 2015 and Hyacinth Cottage, which was set up in 2016 to provide short term accommodation for rural and remote burns patients.

There are more than 60 people in the Unit's team including surgeons and nurses plus physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dieticians, psychologists and social workers who are involved in patient rehabilitation.

Chris has supported the team, burns patients and their families through the 2002 Bali Bombings, the 2003 Canberra bushfires, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, the 2019 New Zealand volcano disaster and the latest Black Summer bushfires.

She has contributed widely to burns research and education, has been a valuable member of numerous professional bodies in Australia and overseas and presented at national and international conferences.

The Director of Burns Unit, Professor Peter Maitz, paid tribute to her leadership.

"Chris is a colleague, a carer, and a friend. She is journeying to a new chapter in her life. We hope this will be the well-earned happiness and peace that Chris has shown so many of our team members," he said.

During a farewell afternoon tea, Chris was presented with a Certificate of Service in recognition of her dedication to the Unit.

Concord Hospital's Director of Nursing Helen Goldsack said, "Chris is passionate about burns care. She has been a champion for burns patients and their families and actively supported them on their journey."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Dr Justine O'Hara commented, "Chris will leave an enormous hole here – of wonderful support, friendship and patient advocacy that's unparalleled in anywhere I have seen."

While Acting Clinical Nurse Consultant, Miranda Pye said, "For 20 years Chris has been our nursing leader, colleague and friend. She is the matriarch of our burns family and we have grown as a Unit because of her leadership, guidance, passion and work ethic."

Chris began her nursing career as a student nurse at Cessnock Hospital in 1983 and worked as an Assistant in Nursing at a nursing home and as a Registered Nurse (RN) at Westmead Hospital.

She then began her midwifery training and worked as an RN in the hospital's surgical high dependency ward before moving to Saudi Arabia to work in burns care.

She briefly returned to Australia working as an agency RN and began working at the Burns Unit at Concord Hospital in 1995, before returning to work in burns care in Saudi Arabia and Ireland.

In 2000, she returned to Concord working in oncology and haematology, before re-joining the Burns Unit in 2001 and in 2003 became the Burns Unit Nurse Unit Manager.

And, now she is now relocating to Scotland.

"There has been many tears in saying goodbye, but you are coming with me in a way, as you will always have a special place in my heart," Chris said.

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