Meet Margi Jenkins, Matron of the Critical Care Unit at the Royal United Hospitals Bath.
“I have worked in the NHS for 35 years in several roles, after doing her initial training at the RUH. Since 1989 my career has been based around intensive care nursing in Southmead, UH Bristol and the RUH. I have also co-led the set-up of a cardiac surgery unit in Trinidad in 1995 and spent two years as a specialist nurse in organ donation.
“I have been the matron for Critical Care since 2019. I love the one nurse to one patient ratio, due the acuteness of the patients. We don’t know who’s going to come into our unit on a day-by-day basis. It might be patient from surgery, someone who has a severe infection, a patient who has suffered from a trauma. We see so many different admissions in critical care. By the very nature of their admission our patients are invariably quite sick, but we get the opportunity to see to see them get better and sometimes, if not, we facilitate good end of life care.
“This has been a year like no other and my role has become much more strategic as the Critical Care team shifted towards Covid-19. The hospital created a new intensive care unit in 42 days and opened in May. Having a second unit has allowed us to expand our intensive care capacity from 13 to 27 beds, and separate the care we offer to intensive care patients.
“In the beginning it was quite frightening for us all in terms of learning new ways of working with an infectious disease. Even though we watched COVID spread east from China and Italy, we didn’t really know what we were dealing with. However, there’s a specific pattern to COVID and that’s been absolutely fascinating to see how the team have learnt to treat and manage it.
“I love my job and quite often joke that if you saw me down the middle, I’d have intensive care going right through me like a stick of rock.
“I still love nothing more than going up to help the team when I can. I’ve been a critical care nurse for so long, but I still genuinely love it. Intensive care never ever had the profile that it currently has had over the last year in the press. I’ve got to be really honest; I’ve sat and I’ve watched BBC News at 10 o’clock and cried, only because those people who know I work in intensive care, don’t really know what me or most importantly, my team do. Up until this point the public don’t really know what critical care is or delivers. My boys are in their 20s, they’ve grown up with me being an intensive care nurse, but they’ve never really had an insight into my job until now. It has been nice for them to have that insight – I’m incredibly proud of where we work, what we do and achieve and the team at the RUH.
“This year has been all consuming for so many people and in the first couple of weeks of the first lockdown I moved out of my home and lived at the hospital because her husband had returned from a ski trip and was unwell with COVID. She knew she could not afford to be off work at a time when everything was ramping up in the Critical Care Unit.
“Sadly, I missed the first part of lockdown by moving out and my family, even though my husband was ill, they appeared to have a lovely time – family meals, binging on Netflix, quality time spent together. It’s been about enjoying the simple things in life. However, what have I missed and want back. I absolutely love live music and I miss that more than anything in the whole wide world. I had several events booked for this year including the Shamabla festival and Glastonbury, which I go to every year so I really want the vaccine to go ahead. They are minor things, but important for work life balance and well-being!
“I’m planning to work some clinical time over Christmas as it is a great opportunity to be with the team – as a matron on Critical Care, clinical credibility and visibility is really important.
“Christmas is the time of year when families come together. Even though my children are grown up, I still love having everybody around and normally we would all sit with in front of the fire with our dogs which gives me that hygge feeling, it’s just a feeling of well-being and how lucky we are. ”