Western Sydney’s first paediatric clinical nurse consultant retires after three decades of caring

Nicola McKay after she won the WSLHD Nursing & Midwifery Award for Excellence in Research. Photo taken before mask requirements in hospitals.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) first paediatric clinical nurse consultant (CNC) based at Mount Druitt Hospital, Nicola McKay, is retiring after a career of 30 years.

Over half of Nicola’s career has been providing care to western Sydney, having first joined Westmead Hospital in 2001 as a CNC working in clinical trials within the oncology department.

She later joined the paediatric team at Mount Druitt Hospital in 2006 and when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Nicola became the COVID nursing lead for paediatrics at Mount Druitt Hospital.

Photos taken before mask requirements in hospitals.

“Being the paediatric COVID nursing lead has been one of the many highlights of my career. I’ve been able to help children and their families during this deadly pandemic and I hope it’s helped pave the way for a safer future,” Nicola said.

 “Last year we didn’t have any children in the ward with COVID-19. This year, we have treated eight children between the ages of two months to 14 years. Thankfully, these kids did not require oxygen support or transfer to the Intensive Care Unit.”

The veteran nurse started her career in the mid-90s, working in the surgical, ears, nose and throat, infectious diseases, and oncology departments at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.

In 2006, Nicola moved to the Children’s Ward at Mount Druitt Hospital as the District’s first paediatric CNC, where she has remained until her retirement.

“My passion has always been working with children and caring for kids with cancer,” Nicola said.

“Caring for children is rewarding, especially the partnership that forms between our service, the family and the child. The paediatric teams I’ve worked with have been a great bunch of inspirational people.

“I’ll miss the connectedness of the Mount Druitt Hospital paediatric team who I’ve worked with for more than 15 years.”

Nicola McKay after she won the WSLHD Nursing & Midwifery Award for Excellence in Research. Photo taken before mask requirements in hospitals.

The married mother-of-two has a self-confessed passion for governance and safety and was the chair of Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals’ Policy & Procedure committee for more than 10 years.

“The role as chair enabled me to understand the core business of our hospitals and not just paediatrics. I met and worked with some fantastic teams,” she said.

Nicola is saying farewell to western Sydney and packing her bags to relocate to Tasmania.

Ned Katrib, general manager of Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals, commended Nicola for her dedication and commitment to caring for our communities.

“Nicola’s been an inspiration to many and respected member of staff who provided care for our young patients,” Ned said.

“I thank Nicola for her dedication, commitment, sharing her knowledge and experience with her colleagues and enhancing clinical practice.”

Nicola leaves Western Sydney Local Health District today, Friday 8 October, and we wish her all the best in retirement. Mount Druitt Hospital will miss you Nicola!