A NURSE has hung up her theatre gown after almost half a century working for the NHS in Hastings.
Karen Grun has spent the last 48 years treating and looking after patients in the operating theatres, first at the Royal East Sussex Hospital and then at Conquest Hospital.
She started as a nurse cadet after leaving school, undertook her nursing training from 1965 and has worked in theatres ever since. She went on to become a theatre manager.
Karen said: “Things were a lot different when I started all those years ago. My first job was to iron the theatre masks, which is what you had to do in those days.
“The way things work now are very different but the basics of looking after patients remain the same.
“I was one of the first sisters to move up to Conquest when it first opened and I am proud and privileged to have worked with so many fantastic people over the years.”
Karen has seen the biggest changes during her time in theatres in the advancements made in orthopaedic surgery, particularly hip replacements.
Patients can now return home on the same day as a hip operation following a pioneering programme developed within the Trust by Orthopaedic Consultant Hugh Apthorp. It combines advancements in surgical techniques and anaesthetics, as well as rehabilitation services to enable some patients to return home on the same day as the operation.
Karen said: “Some of the progress made has been amazing and I am very proud to have been part of Mr Apthorp’s short-stay programme. Hip replacements used to take three and a half hours and the patient would have to stay in hospital for a certain time.
“Now it is done in an hour and the surgery only takes about 30-40 minutes, with the patient being able to go home the same day, which is remarkable.”
Karen bid farewell to her colleagues with a party but says they have not seen the last of her.
She added: “I intend to come back in January as part of the temporary workforce but I will not be doing what I was doing before.
“I will go back to my first love which is clinical scrubbing. We have a great team in theatre so I have no doubt they will do a great job without me.”