Monday May 22, 2023

“In all the years that I’ve been a dialysis nurse, you come across many families that still contact you and say, I appreciate what you’ve done for my dad or my brother.

“I enjoy the consumer contact. You really get to know them, they’re the same faces you see day in day out, three times a week but the positive side of that is you get to develop that connection with them.”

A number of years ago, a Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) saw something in Gertie Sefton and knew she would be the perfect fit to work as a dialysis nurse. Before she knew it, Ms Sefton became a NUM herself, servicing the Box Hill Satellite Renal Dialysis Unit, making an immeasurable difference to those in her care.

Renal Dialysis Nurse Unit Manager Gertie Sefton Image: Eastern Health

After over two decades working in dialysis, the NUM has seen the many challenges poor kidney function can present. Her best advice is to take preventative measures and check in with your GP.

“People should go for their regular check-ups, especially if they have risk factors including a family history of diabetes or hypertension.

“It’s a quite insidious disease because you don’t really feel it until you are close to needing dialysis. And that’s why if people don’t go and get their themselves checked with a blood test and ignore seemingly normal symptoms like chronic tiredness they can miss an important diagnosis,” Ms Sefton said.

In the instances that people require dialysis, Ms Sefton is there to checking in on her consumers during their sessions, and also plays a significant role in advocating for them too.

“Your role as a dialysis nurse is to be able to be that conduit between the consumer, the doctors, the other members of the multidisciplinary team, their GP and sometimes even their family. As a satellite dialysis nurse, we don’t always see the doctors face-to-face so the medical team relies on the nurse to be able to accurately paint the picture so that you’re able to advocate for your patient’s wellbeing.”

Renal Dialysis Nurse Unit Manager Gertie Sefton
NUM Gertie Sefton works diligently at the satellite Renal Dialysis Unit at Eastern Health Box Hill Image: Eastern Health

Managing a consumer’s overall experience in dialysis stretches beyond what the naked eye can see. Ms Sefton and her team help orchestrate the best symphony of care possible for her consumers.

“We talk to doctors, the psychologist, the dieticians. We’re quite fortunate at Eastern Health that as part of our renal unit, we have all these professionals that are part of the team and they help us manage our patients.”

Dialysis replaces one function of the kidney; cleaning of toxic products. It gets rid of excess fluid and excess products of metabolism that our body produces every day.

“Dialysis replaces that function, which the kidney does quietly in the background 24/7. Our consumers come in and do that for four to five hours, three times a week,” Ms Sefton explained.

This year Kidney Health Week runs from 21 – 27 May, raising awareness of the importance of kidney health.