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What do you do, Patrice?

Patrice Alexander, patient safety and quality manager, tells us about her years as a renal nurse.
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Patrice in the atrium at Evelina London

How long have you worked at Evelina London?

Since I qualified in 2002. I worked here as a student in intensive care and surgery. I had placements in other hospitals, but I was so impressed by Evelina London that I made a decision that I was going to work here and nowhere else. My friends had applied for a number of hospitals but I applied for just one. They told me I was mad to put all my eggs in one basket with no back up, but I was determined that I was only working for Evelina. I worked as a renal nurse, a nurse specialising in care for patients with kidney problems, from 2004-2019 before I got my current role.

What is your current role and how did you get there?

I chose renal nursing initially not because of the speciality, but because of the team. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm, patience and compassion for the families. It was so heavily family oriented, like nothing I had seen before. The consultants, the nurses, the pharmacist, the domestics, the porters… Everyone treated each other with respect and value like a well-oiled engine working towards one goal – the child and their family. I was so impressed I stayed, then fell in love with the speciality later. Now, I am working for the patient safety and quality team. I have always had a passion for safety; that everything we do should be in the best interest of our patients. I worked in this team previously as a secondment and all my renal colleagues said that it was definitely for me. In this role, I can have an impact on all patients.

Tell us one fun fact about your job…

Santa comes round every patient’s bed on Christmas Eve!

Being part of Evelina London means…

Two things: excellence and family. We provide care that is of the highest standard, and when we fall short we take accountability and work towards improvement, putting in place safe processes. We are not afraid of change or challenges, because we want to provide our families with the best. This drive comes from the fact the Evelina London is like one big family.

I am most passionate about

The patient’s safety and experience. Being in hospital is challenging; it’s not home, it’s not everyday life, but for some patients this can be their reality. Therefore if they are admitted for a day or a year, I want to ensure that their journey is as less thorny! I’m not a magician, and I can’t magically make their condition go away, but what I can do, I will do. I make a point to remember the parent’s/carer’s name, offer a cup of tea and an ear to listen, organise professionals and teams together so the child only needs to have one visit, and advocate the family’s wants to the team (not just needs). Anything that makes the journey a little smoother, but the child’s safety will always come first.

The one patient that always sticks with me is…

All of them! The children and their families go through their journey with us throughout their treatment until they are transferred to adult services. They become family. We have spent Christmases together, we have laughed together, we have cried together. That’s why every renal patient that I have cared for will stick with me. You don’t forget family.

What has been your proudest moment?

I feel so proud when patients get out of bed for the first time after their kidney transplant. The record is still held by a little girl with one leg just seven hours post-transplant, despite having a prosthetic leg she was so determined she didn't let anything slow her down!

There are so many! Showing the kids and their parents their creatinine graph after transplant is a great feeling; creatinine is the waste product coming out of the blood, and after transplant the graph shows the kidney doing the removal itself! I also feel so proud when staff I’ve trained become leaders themselves, when a child who has been an inpatient for a long time finally gets discharged, when a child passes urine for the very first time after being too sick to do so, and simply when I get huge hugs from patients and families… Evelina London has given me many, many proud moments.

Colourful question marks drawn by a child

Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.

What do you do?

We love highlighting our staff and their amazing career journeys.

Read other pieces in this series: