Meet our Staff: Jennifer, ICU Head Nurse
Here at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore, we have an 18-bed ICU. These are divided into two sections: high dependency and intensive care, where patients are kept on ventilators.
Our ICU team consists of consultants, pulmonologists, therapists, and highly specialised nurses led by Jennifer, our Head Nurse, who has been with us for 20 years. Despite our nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:1, the job is not easy, as Jennifer explains below.
"Sometimes I have to hold myself back from crying," Jennifer says, “because if you break down, you will break down a patient’s hope."
Hailing from the Philippines, Jennifer first came to Shaukat Khanum Hospital to train our nurses.
"Initially, I was reluctant and hesitant to come," she recalls, "but then I was told that it was a cancer hospital run on charity donations. I was intrigued, so I said okay, let me try. There were 20 of us nurses who came to Pakistan together. One by one, my colleagues eventually went back over the years, but I stayed on."
Having lost her own parents to cancer in her home country, Jennifer felt overwhelmed when she first started working for us. This is not uncommon of course, because it can never get easy to see someone suffer, especially if it’s a child.
"It was difficult to see so many people, so many patients suffering from this disease. I was so emotional. Some of our nurses will deal with the job the way they need to," she explains, "but you will sometimes see them breaking down in a corner."
Jennifer told us she is able to continue her work because of the strength she draws from the patients and families, who rise above their pain like heroes. She also draws strength from the faith, prayers, and donations that have allowed Shaukat Khanum Hospital to stay operational throughout the years.
"Shaukat Khanum Hospital has changed me so much as a person. My own parents died of cancer. It was devastating. But here, where I’m supporting patients and their families; supporting the siblings of child patients; fighting with them to beat this disease day in and day out, it’s life-changing.
Now I tell myself, for as long as I live, I will work here for cancer patients. Thank you for giving me the strength to do my job."
From Jennifer, and all our ICU staff at Shaukat Khanum, thank you for giving us the means and the strength to support some of Pakistan’s poorest in their time of greatest need.