“Thank you to all of our talented and caring nurses working at the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand. You make a difference to the lives of our patients and their families every day. Your commitment to quality care and your willingness to go the extra mile is greatly appreciated and valued by our patients, our doctors and your colleagues.”
– Chief Executive Susan Hay and Nurse Manager Kelly Hayes.
The Foundation employees 10 dedicated and talented Community Hepatitis Nurses. Kerry Kennedy has worked as a Community Hepatitis Nurse at The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand for more than six years. She plays a key role in providing monitoring and support for hepatitis B patients in North Auckland (Orewa to Cape Reinga).
When Kerry isn’t working from her North Auckland home she is visiting patients and health professionals, as well as travelling around the North Island operating FibroScan clinics.
Below Kerry shares a day in the life of a FibroScan Clinic Nurse.
A FibroScan is essentially a modified ultrasound scan of the liver. It is a simple, painless procedure that measures the stiffness of the liver to determine the extent of liver damage.
“A lot of work is put in before the actual FibroScan clinic is held. I look at secondary care letters for each patient, check their genotype and check their FibroScan records. When I arrive in the town I’ll also go visit the clinic if I haven’t been there before. I like to introduce myself to the staff, find out the clinic hours and look at the clinic room. I’ll put some hepatitis B flyers on the notice board.
Before the clinic, I phone each patient to remind them about their appointment. I also reassure them that a FibroScan is nothing to be nervous about. It’s a very simple, quick and painless procedure. The phone call also provides the patient with an opportunity to change their appointment if need be.
On the day of the appointment, the patient also receives a text reminder. When they come into the clinic I’ll check their details including their address and phone number as well as discuss previous results. I’ll take some time to provide education about hepatitis using the Foundation’s Hepatitis B Flipchart. Many people find the education a really important part of the session. It provides patients with time to openly discuss the virus with a health professional in a safe environment.
After the education session, I will perform the FibroScan. This involves placing a probe over the liver area and gathering 10 readings of the stiffness of the liver. Sometimes the FibroScan machine won’t be able to get a successful result. This can be for many reasons.
After the scan, I discuss the results with the patient. It’s always important to emphasise the importance of looking after the liver.
If the patient has severe fibrosis or cirrhosis I’ll refer them to the Foundation’s Medical Director Dr Chris Moyes or Clinical Director Dr Alex Lampen-Smith for a referral to secondary care. I’ll also do extra blood tests and let them know I’ll be requesting an ultrasound (which is different from a FibroScan). Often I’ll invite clinic staff to see how the FibroScan machine works if there is a time gap between appointments.”
Kerry enjoys many aspects of her position as a Hepatitis Community Nurse, particularly the autonomy of the job, patient contact and her helpful colleagues. “The admin staff and nurses, in particular, are always happy to help and are a good support for me.”
The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand operates a National Hepatitis B Follow-up Programme for people living with chronic hepatitis B in New Zealand. The Hepatitis Foundation no longer operates a Hepatitis C Follow-up Programme as hepatitis C patient services are now managed through GPs.