International Nurses Day: Public Health nurses crucial in pandemic response

Improving the health and wellbeing of a whole community, reducing inequities and preventing disease outbreaks was not an area of nursing accomplished Public Health Nurse Manager Liz Read knew existed until a placement with Palmerston North’s public health unit during nursing training.

“Public Health become my chosen career path when I realised that nursing could involve a whole-of-population approach.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding, I love the broad scope of practice, combining nursing and public health knowledge and skill.”

Public health nurses work within the community, including school and early childhood settings to deliver a wide range of personal health and public health services. This includes school immunisation programmes, school clinics, communicable disease management and health promotion.

One of Hawke’s Bay’s most experienced public health nurses, Liz has been involved in case investigation and contact tracing for many years such as during measles outbreaks, for example

She says teamwork is everything.

“I work with an amazing team of dedicated public health professionals here in Hawke’s Bay.

“Our unique role during disease outbreaks means we have been working around-the-clock during COVID-19 to ensure cases are well managed, their contacts traced and further spread prevented.”

Liz’s leadership and gold standard operational processes during the COVID-19 emergency response has gained national recognition with her recent appointment to the Government’s COVID-19 national Contact Tracing Assurance Committee (CTAC) announced by Health Minister David Clark.

The committee will provide on the ground and front-line information on contact tracing capability in New Zealand to help advise the committee. 

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