Registered nurse Gail Timmons describes her job as a partnership.
Timmons gives a peek into her role at the Comox Valley Nursing Centre for the Record’s second article looking at non-hospital-based nursing positions in celebration of National Nursing Week (May 6-12).
Timmons says she works in partnership with her clients when helping them better manage their chronic pain and chronic disease.
“It’s about the partnering,” she says. “So it’s listening with compassion, hearing the story between the lines, knowing what’s available in the community, knowing what’s available in our program here, and then supporting the client to make decisions that work for him or her.”
Timmons notes four part-time registered nurses work at the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Comox Valley Nursing Centre, which is open for drop-in visits Monday to Friday. The centre offers care in a variety of areas besides chronic pain and chronic disease management, like eating disorders, men’s health, support groups, workshops, street outreach and health education.
She says the job is complex. For example, if a patient comes in for help with some sort of chronic pain, there are often many other life stressors which could influence that pain.
“It’s not just about pain; it’s about lifestyle changes and mental challenges,” she says. “A lot of people lose their jobs so there’s financial changes, sometimes relationships struggle through it — so the nurse works in partnership with that person to work around the nursing part, the medical part, and the teaching and education, and she works as an advocate for them.
“Then, if there’s other skills that are required, like mental health counselling, the nurse will refer the client to mental health services or things that are available in the community.”
She likens herself to the navigator sitting in the passenger seat of her client’s car.
“I’ve got a glove compartment full of all kinds of really interesting maps and I have no idea where you want to go. My role is to be a listener to your story,” she says, adding she’ll find out generally which direction her client might like to take. “And, I go, ‘Hang on a sec,’ and I pull out a map and I say, ‘Oh look, here’s some of our options, what do you think?'”
Timmons has worked at nursing centre for 12 years and before that she worked as a nurse in various different parts of the world, spent 20 years working at the BC Children’s Hospital and spent 17 years in First Nations communities on the B.C. coast and the Northern Interior.
She says this nursing position is her favourite in all her career.
“In all my experience, I’ve never enjoyed the style of work as much as here because it’s like going travelling every day…the people are different, the issues are different, the concerns are different, we have a very gifted and supportive team, committed team,” she says.
“It’s always a thrill to have somebody not come anymore, not so much because they’re tired of us, but because they’ve moved through whatever it is that they needed help with.”
For more information about the Comox Valley Nursing Centre and what it offers, visit www.viha.ca/comox_valley_nursing_centre or call 250-331-8502.