Staff Stories

Celebrating staff stories at #Teamgesh

We’re celebrating our staff in a series of stories from across gesh – our hospital Group.

We’ll introduce you to a different star of the show each week, hearing about the difference they make to our patients and communities, and how they are unique.

 

Meet Marlon Reyes – keen traveller and our next staff story.

Meet Marlon Reyes, Frailty Nurse for Sutton Health and Care.

“I always wanted to work in the medical field, and nursing has been my only career since leaving school. Before I came to the UK, I was an emergency nurse in the Philippines. I worked at St George’s hospital for 20 years.

“My two great loves are working with people and travel abroad, and nursing has been a way to travel and work at the same time, while fulfilling my passion for caring.

“I’m based in the emergency department at St Helier hospital. I see patients aged over 65, mostly they have become less mobile, some have had falls or are suffering from confusion.

“My role is a front door to community services for people who come to the emergency department. We assess patients, and if we can do so safely, we send them home making use of all the services we have in the community, such as district nurses, palliative care nurses, physiotherapists and virtual ward staff.

“I play a lot of sport, especially swimming, badminton and basketball. I like to balance my workload and my social life – but outside of work, travel is my true passion.”

Meet Roxanne Turner – rocker at heart and ESTH cleaner:

“I’m a local girl, growing up and attending school in Sutton, so it’s super rewarding working for a trust that serves my community. 

“Despite my daily tasks mostly remaining the same, each day is always different – and they’re mostly fun. The best part of my role is getting to meet new people every day.” 

“Achieving a five-star rating in my cleaning audit was a memorable and proud moment for me. Receiving recognition is always a huge boost. 

“I am also a whiz with numbers, and I’m a qualified bookkeeper with first class pass merits. I managed to juggle studying alongside raising three kids – often sitting down with my books while they were at school or in bed. 

“Some may be surprised to hear that I am a great singer – I’ll listen and singalong to anything really – from reggae to pop…although I’m a bit of a rocker at heart.” 

 

Meet Antonio “Antuan” Sierra Cueto, Specialist Occupational Therapist (STAR TEAM), at St George’s.

“Born in the wonderful sunny Malaga in Spain, I moved to the UK a long time ago to further my career and I’ve never looked back.

“I love playing a crucial part in my patients’ recovery journey – seeing them become more confident over time, and then eventually discharging them with the skills to live happily and independently is the most satisfaction I could have.

“I’m a huge extrovert so it feels like I’ve lived many lives – I used to be a Cruise Line Entertainer, hosting bingo sessions and drag shows. I’ve also spent time as part of the Mamma Mia musical cast – you can’t beat a bit of ABBA.

“Outside of work, I’m a Zumba Instructor. Despite the super high energy atmosphere, it helps me to wind down after a long day in the hospital – I always have the best time dancing and interacting with the people in my classes.”

To mark HR Day, we heard from Sasha Gehrmann, E-Rostering Apprentice at ESTH. 

“Before even finishing school, I knew university wasn’t for me. I wanted to head straight into the world of work, so when I saw NHS HR Apprenticeships advertised, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m also studying for a Business Administrator qualification, and I love that my apprenticeship lets me explore the many aspects of what HR has to offer.

“Without a doubt, my forthcoming career goals will focus on developing my E-Rostering knowledge – there’s so much to learn. I just really love helping people, and working in HR allows me to do that every day.

“Travelling is my passion, and I’ve been lucky enough to adventure through five continents. From feeding kangaroos in Australia, to visiting an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, and chilling with wild monkeys in Bali – I’ve seen a lot. Snorkelling in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef is my most unforgettable experience though – I think about it most days. One day, I hope to head to south America, and Antarctica if I’m brave enough.”

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Meet George Gouveia, IDT Head of Training at St George’s.

“I joined St George’s over 30 years ago as a porter, following in my Dad’s footsteps. He was so proud to be a night porter, and portering was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever had. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than helping people. You can’t underestimate the positive impact a smile or a kind word can have on a patient when they’re at their most vulnerable. 

After a few years, I secured a job in the Postgraduate Education Centre, giving me a great introduction to computers. Once I joined the IT department, I started to work my way up – I certainly never dreamt I would be in this role when I started as a porter all those years ago. 

“I met my beautiful wife Debbie at St George’s over two decades ago – we kept bumping into each other on various wards and sparking conversation, and the rest is history. 

“It’s never too late to gain a qualification or skill. I’ve just graduated from Kingston College as a Chartered Business Manager. I hadn’t studied since leaving school, so committing to a four-year degree made me very nervous, but important for the role I’m entrusted to do.  

“I’m a very competitive person. I managed to rack up a million steps in a month and won the St George’s Step Challenge a few years back – losing is never an option for me. I feed this passionate and competitive spirit into three of the loves of my life – my son, my daughter and Spurs – I never miss a game.” 

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To mark International Nurses Day, we heard from Jyothimol Joseph, Staff Nurse at ESTH.

“I know how valuable a nurse’s support is during difficult periods – my own twin girls were born nine weeks early. My nursing experience has mentally prepared me for many testing life moments, and surviving these has in turn made me a more confident nurse.

“As someone who enjoys every moment while caring for others, nursing has always felt like the perfect fit. I started my career back in India, and this year I celebrate 20 years in the profession.  

“God has gifted me with five children, including not just one, but two sets of twins. I feel very lucky that I have an incredible family to care for, as well as working in a profession that gives me so much joy.

“I am well-travelled and have lived in different countries including India and Saudi Arabia. Outside (and often inside) of work hours, I love to sing. Despite not being professionally trained, I always hit those notes.”

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This International Day of the Midwife, we heard from Sarah Thacker, Professional Midwifery Advocate Team Lead at St George’s.

“I’ve worked at George’s for nearly 40 years. I’ve delivered countless babies – but still remember the first and the families never forget you, which always touches me.

“Midwifery is extremely rewarding, but there are challenges – and that’s where me and my team come in. We offer a confidential listening ear, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on during the tough days.

“I love looking after others and pride myself on being supportive and caring. In the Birth Reflection Clinic, I give women and birthing people a safe space to talk through their pregnancy journey. It’s a privilege being able to reassure and care for someone during such a pivotal moment in their life.

“When I’m out of uniform, I run a toddler group and volunteer at my local church. I also really love spending time with my family, and walking – especially when there is a challenge involved. This year, I’ve set myself the target of walking the entire Thames Towpath, covering 185 miles in total – we only started last weekend so there’s a long old way to go.”


Meet Shani McHugh, Service Coordinator in Patient Services at ESTH.

“Walking in on my first day at St Helier, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. That still sticks with me, and has been the same in every team I’ve worked in. The support is amazing.

“I help colleagues by organising their diaries and taking minutes. I’m extremely organised – I have a notebook and a list for everything, so my job suits my personality perfectly. Knowing I’ve made a colleague’s day easier is the best feeling. 

“I’m so proud to be a member of admin staff. We don’t all have direct contact with patients, but still contribute to patient care and the smooth running of our services. 

“Some may compare me to Doctor Dolittle…I’ve got seven pets and this number will only increase. My tribe of animals includes two hamsters, two giant African land snails, a cat, a tortoise and a fish. It’s certainly busy caring for so many pets, but it’s my passion. A benefit is that my fridge is always full of salad, so people assume that I’m super healthy.”

 


Meet Kristy Parrack, Health Play Specialist at ESTH.

Qualifying as a health play specialist has been my career highlight, because it’s such a rewarding role. I love supporting children and young people, as well as their families and carers, to make their stays in hospital less daunting and as positive as possible.

“Part of my role involves preparing young patients for their hospital stay by talking through the process ahead. Supporting children to be more resilient is so important to me – especially during long-term or repeat stays. My team also uses distraction when patients are undergoing sometimes painful procedures, and we use play to aid with their recovery from illness or surgery.

“Working with the wider play team, I’ve helped make major improvements to the hospital, such as creating the wonderful sensory garden. As a team, we regularly organise events, including marking Play in Hospital Week where we celebrate the magic of play in healthcare.

“Outside of work, I embrace my creative side – I love making personalised cards, gifts and decorations for my family and friends.”


 

Meet Nana Jenkins, Security Operations Manager at ESTH.

“I came to the UK from Ghana in 2018 and started working as a security guard at Epsom and St Helier in 2019. I worked hard, became a security supervisor and now I’m Operations Manager. We are a diverse workforce that reflects our communities.

“Working in hospital security, you never know what each day will bring. Often, we are not needed but by being there, we quietly offer reassurance. As a team, we strive to maintain a calm working atmosphere for staff and therefore benefit patient wellbeing. 

“I enjoy helping patients with mental health needs. I make sure I build a rapport with them by taking the time to listen, so they understand I’m here to help. The training I’ve received as a mental health first aider is invaluable in these situations.

“I love to read – Paul Grzegorzek, a security team colleague at ESTH who write books in his spare time, is my favourite author! During my days off, I head into nature to pursue one of my passions – photography. I also enjoy painting and spending quality time with my loved ones.”


Meet Maria Fernandez, Lead Nurse for Renal Transplant, at St George’s.

“Matrons and sisters from St George’s came to the Philippines in 2000 to talk to nurses interested in working for the NHS. I was interviewed, and soon after came to London to be a dialysis nurse.

“My mum was worried when I left as it was my first time away from home. I had to learn how to cook, do laundry – all those things – but said I would try it for two years and could go home if I wasn’t happy. I’ve been working at St George’s ever since – 24 years, and I have loved every day.

“I always wanted to work in the renal department. I’ve gone from working as a Adaption Nurse on Buckland ward all the way to being the Lead Nurse for renal transplant.

“I’ve been supported to progress in my career and work on projects that have improved patient care. Making sure patients get the best treatment is important to me – like developing an electronic referral system for transplants that may be adopted nationally.

“Some days, it’s hard to believe that it’s ‘Rhia from the Philippines’ who has done all this. But St George’s gave me the confidence. Winning this year’s Renal Nurse of the Year award was not just about me, it’s for everyone in the renal team. We are a family always striving to deliver outstanding care.”

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Lets meet Kristina Middleton, Health and Wellbeing Lead at St George’s.

“Our staff work incredibly hard delivering care for our patients and as a Health and Wellbeing Lead, I help to make sure our staff are cared for too. Colleagues can work long shifts in challenging circumstances and need to know someone is there to support them.

“Throughout the cost of living crisis, we were able to offer staff free food onsite and signpost them to local charities to help them get long-term support.

“But support can also be patients appreciating the difference staff make to their experience in hospital. Last year, we introduced Acts of Kindness awards based on patient and staff feedback that recognises the lasting impression positive staff action has in delivering care and creating a supportive working environment.

“Those receiving an award felt seen and appreciated, encouraging them to stay working for the Group. We will never be able to capture all of the kind acts taking place in our hospitals, but I am really glad we were able to spotlight some and reward people and teams praised by our patients.

“Some may say it’s an unusual hobby – but I’m doing a Ph.D. with Erasmus University Rotterdam on weekends, researching how people use available flexible working arrangements and the impact it has on individuals and organisations.”

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Lets meet Dionne Daniel, Director of Nursing – Fundamentals of Care at ESTH.

“It’s been quite the journey to get to where I am now. Growing up in Trinidad, I wanted to be a nun. It wasn’t right for me though so I trained to be a nurse. A friend wanted to come to England – not me – but I said I’d come too. Then my friend stayed in Trinidad.

“I remember arriving in England so clearly. It was 27 November 1998, and it was grey and cold – not like Trinidad at all. I was only going to stay for a year and then move on to Australia or America. However, I stayed because I loved it here.

“Being Director of Nursing for Fundamentals of Care covers a lot of ground. Every day, I get to work with amazing colleagues to make sure patient safety is a priority, and meet staff in their own environment during walkabouts – there is so much to see, I could happily be there all day.

“I’m an Ambassador for the Cavell Trust, a charity that helps nurses, and is very close to my heart. I’ve been raising funds for them since 2017, including only hopping, skipping, and jumping for the whole of August.

“My faith and helping people are very important to me – even more important than Arsenal. In February 2010, I became one of the first street pastors in Eastbourne, and the first team outside of London, to care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets at night.”

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Let’s meet Mary Willocks, Maternity Inpatient Matron at Epsom Hospital.

“Being at the birth of a much longed-for baby is always amazing and a privilege.”

“I never want to lose my clinical skills and feel very lucky to be able to deliver care to our women and birthing people while managing my amazing team.

“I’ve been a midwife for 27 years and there have been a lot of memorable moments. Every delivery is special but being at the birth of a much longed-for baby is always an amazing moment and I feel very privileged to be a part of that.

 “I’ve taken part in quite a few endurance walks, and in 2018 I walked around the Isle of Wight non-stop, a total of 106km, which took 38 hours. I walked with a group of midwives and together we raised £7500 for the Triage Unit at St Helier.”

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 Let’s meet Deborah Gouveia, Senior Quality Improvement Advisor and QI Programme Lead at ESTH.

“Letting people know how valued they are is so important. It’s something I’ve always done.”

“My grandfather was a pharmacist in Guyana, South America. Everyone called him ‘the medicine man’. I thought that sounded really exciting, so at 15 I did work experience on the chemist counter at Boots and ended up a qualified pharmacist – my first NHS role.

“Now I help improve the care we give to patients, and I love it. I’m proud to lead our Improvement Practitioner Programme, working with our fantastic leaders. I see myself as a super connector – bringing people together to share skills and knowledge and make our care better.

“Letting people know how valued they are is so important, and it can make them want to improve. It’s something I’ve always done.

“My colleagues know about my love for quality improvement, but not that I absolutely love Guns N’ Roses and Spurs. It was a dream come true when GNR was the first band to play at Spurs’ home ground White Hart Lane. I was there loving the sun and the sounds.”

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Let’s meet Joana Lopes Gomes, Adult Safeguarding Clinical Nurse Specialist, who works at St George’s.

“Being a nurse requires clinical expertise, but also the warmth and empathy of a fellow human being.”

In adult safeguarding, our purpose is protecting and supporting those who are unable to do so themselves. We sometimes encounter difficult and distressing situations, but I’m thankful for every single person that has been referred to us. Lots of teams come together to make these patients’ lives more dignified.

Being a nurse requires clinical expertise, but also the warmth and empathy of a fellow human being – with all the emotions that accompany it. When I was a ward nurse, a patient with cancer receiving end of life care started telling me her deepest thoughts. It was a true rewind through the years, from someone who was trying to wrap up a whole lifetime of memories – from proudest moments to regrets. I could not hold my tears back as I listened to her, and we ended up crying together. Before I left the room, the lady asked me for a hug. This happened quite a few years ago – but it still touches me deeply.

It may surprise people to know that I didn’t have experience in adults safeguarding before I became a clinical nurse specialist. There are no limits to what nurses can achieve in the NHS. Skills can be learned, and there are always amazing opportunities out there.

If you would like to join our team please visit: jobs.stgeorges.nhs.uk