All in a Day's Work - Tracey Cunningham, Matron at Dartmouth Hospital
The role of the Matron is very wide ranging and at Dartmouth Hospital Tracey Cunningham took on this task six months ago. Tracey came to Dartmouth from Torbay Hospital and, although she does not live locally, she has moored a boat on the river for some years so she feels that she knows the town well. She is very clinically based so don’t expect to find her tucked away in an office as she likes to be out nursing patients on the wards, engaging with relatives and GP’s who visit or helping out in the Minor Injuries Unit. The public do expect the ‘modern matron’ to be ‘at the coal face’ so to speak.
The Matron was brought back after a commitment was made in the National Health Service Plan by senior staff who identified the need for patients to have a figurehead to identify with. Tracey’s role is obviously to oversee and provide leadership to a team which ensures that standards and infection controls are monitored. ‘That is about engaging with, and listening to, the concerns of members of your team such as Hotel Services who are the ones actually cleaning the wards; she explained. ‘The best part of my role here is working with such dedicated and professional people.’ The provision at Dartmouth Hospital is for a GP run hospital supported by the Devon Doctors Service which is always on call for particularly difficult cases.
Patients are taken from all over the South Hams and sixteen beds are available in single sex wards for adults of all ages which are managed by Phillipa Moysey. Tracey commented, ‘We do put a patient’s personal privacy and dignity high on our list of importance.’ People may not be aware that the hospital provides physiotherapy five days a week, an X-ray unit twice a week, occupational therapy, a Minor Injury Unit daily 8am -10pm, Out Patients Clinic in a separate building near the Police Station and a Day Care Unit providing respite which is run by Pam Risley and Nikki Boyd. This is accessed through the local GP or Social Services Dept and there are currently places available.
Tracey sees part of her job as informing the public of what the hospital offers and thinks that perhaps sometimes unnecessary trips are made to Torbay or Derriford Hospitals when the problem could be dealt with in Dartmouth. She is also aware that the local population increases dramatically at different times of the year for such events as the Music Festival and Regatta and this is another factor which has to be accommodated.
The Hospital enjoys a spectacular position on the South Embankment and all the patients enjoy the ever moving river scene whether in bed or sitting in the day rooms which Tracey believes is a therapy in itself which cannot be under estimated! The hospital is also extremely lucky to have a very active and supportive League of Friends who really do make such a difference. Purely because of their efforts extras are available in patient care and this year alone they have provided a bladder scanner and a ‘high/low’ bed.
To finish, Tracey would ask you to support your local hospital any way you can – it really does need to be treasured.
First Published January 2009 By The Dart