Thank you to staff for easing son’s hospital fears

The parents of a teenage boy with severe autism have said thank you to staff for doing all they can to help him with his anxiety over being in hospital.

thankyouStaff in the day case unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool made sure 18-year-old Jamie Garbutt felt as comfortable as possible during an appointment to have an operation to remove both of his large toenails.

The day before Jamie’s operation, his mum Paula contacted the unit and explained to nurse Gayle Kier about her son’s fears.

To help him feel more relaxed staff made sure his operation was scheduled at a time when no other patients would be there.

Jamie was also allowed to wear his own clothes rather than a hospital gown and was anaesthetised using gas rather than having an injection. While under general anaesthetic, the community dental service were also able to carry out a check on Jamie’s teeth – something which would have been impossible if he was not anaesthetised.
Afterwards, staff made sure Jamie woke up with both his mum and his dad Peter by his bedside to reassure him.

Paula, who is a healthcare assistant in surgery and urology at the University Hospital of North Tees, wrote to staff to thank them.

She said: “Jamie has severe autism – his is non verbal and has learning disabilities. I know staff put a lot of planning into his care to help with the great anxieties he has around hospitals.

“I phoned Gayle and explained my son’s needs and she took all of the stress away from the very start contacting consultants, anaesthetists and planning his care for the day ahead. She made sure his needs were fully met, making it a positive experience for him. The way they treated him will help make him less afraid if he ever needs hospital care again.

“We thought it was an amazing idea that while Jamie was in theatre the consultant agreed to let the community dental service come in to plan if further work was needed.
“All the team in theatre were so accommodating to us when Jamie came out of theatre in recovery, and sister Melissa McKie was nothing but helpful and very kind to Jamie as was healthcare assistant Linda Guttridge who also went the extra mile for us. All of the staff were fantastic.”

“It was positive experience for Jamie and hopefully with more like this he will understand that people are here to help him. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful hospital with such amazing staff.”

Ward sister Melissa McKie said: “We as a team felt very proud to have made a difference to Jamie’s experience by reducing his anxiety. Paula and Peter’s feedback has really made our day – it is the reason why we do our jobs, to care for people who need our help and to make a difference.”

Healthcare assistant Linda Guttridge, sister Melissa McKie and nurse Gayle Kier, pictured.

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