Nurse retires after 27 years on ward 22

MEMORIES: At Pam Woodham's farewell celebration, she was gifted with a book of photos and memories - one memory shared when Ms Woodham overcame a challenge when she started cycling to work every day PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

The longest-serving nurse in one of Christchurch Hospital’s children’s wards has handed in her scrubs.

Almost 27 years ago, Pam Woodham was offered a nursing job in ward 22, a 20-bed ward for children up to the age of 15 with medical conditions.

She fell in love with her career, motivated daily by the resilience, compliance and understanding of her patients who battled both short and long-term illnesses. But at 68, Mrs Woodham has decided to cycle home for the last time.

Among her friends from the ward is Ashleigh Lilley, 25, who Mrs Woodham has cared for since she was first admitted as a three-month-old.

Miss Lilley has a rare liver disorder called glycogen storage disease, which has caused her to be in and out of hospital her whole life.

Mrs Woodham remembers having races with Miss Lilley, in which she would drink ice cold water while Miss Lilley downed cornstarch to raise her blood pressure.

Mrs Woodham has had many roles in the children’s ward.

“I loved them all. When you are an advocate for children it doesn’t matter what role you’re in. The child is the most important part of it all,” she said.

“Kids need to know that you care and that you will be there for them.”

Mrs Woodham had a large

send-off this month to celebrate her dedication to the job. She dressed in an old nursing uniform from the Hillmorton Hospital museum.

The outfit was similar to the one she wore when she took her first nursing job in Sydney – where she was born – in 1968 at a Catholic hospital run by nuns.

Mrs Woodham married and moved to Christchurch in 1977, where she raised four children.

She took time off nursing to pursue a cake business before returning to start her job at Christchurch Hospital in 1992.

After almost five decades in the workforce, MrsWoodham said she still feels like she is on annual leave – not retired.

“It still hasn’t really hit me,” she said.

With more free time on her hands, Mrs Woodham will add travel to her list of hobbies – which includes reading, cycling, tramping and going to the gym.

Her son, who lives in Christchurch, recently shouted her a week-long trip to Fiji to celebrate her retirement and she will travel to England on Sunday to see one of her daughters.

Mrs Woodham said she also plans to visit her two children in Australia soon, as well as her 18-year-old granddaughter in Sydney, who has just started studying to become a nurse.