Tracey Kunac’s hugely positive impact on her patients and colleagues is recognised in her selection as Waikato DHB’s Nurse of the Year.
As a clinical nurse specialist within the Infectious Diseases team, Tracey manages patients in hospital who need to transition to intravenous antibiotics at home under the supervision of a district nurse. This is known as the OPIVA (outpatient intravenous antibiotic) service.
In her nomination for Waikato DHB 2018 Nurse of the Year award, the words dedication, knowledge, communication and commitment are prominent. So is patient-centredness.
Her nominator charge nurse manager Ward M6 Liz Gunn puts it like this: “Tracey will navigate families and patients through the big words that exist in the world of bacteria and antibiotics. Her family meetings will include the patient and their crucial support people. She will explain the laboratory results in appropriate language, discuss appropriate medication therapies and how these will be managed both as an inpatient and then as an outpatient. She gives her time willingly and patients are never made to feel rushed.”
Tracey completed her nursing training in 1987 in Waikato and then moved around the country before returning to the Waikato in 2000, into a nurse specialist role in internal medicine.
And then in 2010 she worked as a district nurse with patients in the community. “That experience and those networks really help me do my job now,” she says. “Even though I am based at Waikato Hospital, I know the reality of the community – what support and resources district nurses need from me so they can help the patient, and what Sunday afternoon in Ngāruawāhia looks like if something goes wrong and help is needed.”
After 20 years of nursing, Tracey undertook undergraduate studies which, she says, helped expand her practice and got her focused on the patient’s journey and how people navigate their way through the system.
“I could put it all together in my current role.” That role, clinical nurse specialist with Infectious Diseases, was created by Dr Paul Huggan in 2015 as part of setting up an Infectious Diseases team. Tracey says it is Dr Huggan’s vision and smart planning that meant the nurse specialist role can totally focus on patients.
In supporting her nomination, the Infectious Diseases team wrote:
“Tracey takes it for granted that patients should receive care on their own terms, in an environment most suitable to their needs and in a manner which is truly respectful of their ideas, concerns and future expectations…. Tracey leads by example with this approach and has elevated the practice of the ID team, as we seek to emulate and match her high standards.
“Thank you for this opportunity to shed light on one of the greatest nurses this country has.”