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Nominate a nurse: Perth nurse Jeremy Johnson's mission to save lives of premature babies after daughter Halle was born weighing just 450g

Nominate a nurse: Perth nurse Jeremy Johnson's mission to save lives of premature babies after daughter Halle was born weighing just 450g

Saving the lives of premature babies like his daughter — who weighed as much as a can of beans when she was born at just 26 weeks — is the most rewarding job in the world for Jeremy Johnson.

The 30-year-old registered nurse started his career working with adults but was so impressed with the care his little girl received at King Edward Memorial Hospital that he joined the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit two years after her birth in June 2017.

His daughter, Halle, spent almost six months in hospital in what he said was the “toughest experience” he and his partner, who was also extremely sick with early onset pre-eclampsia, have had to endure.

Jeremy Johnson and daughter Halle.

“At the time she was born, she was one of the sickest and smallest babies in the unit. She was 450g. That’s about as small as it gets, really,” Mr Johnson said.

“Antenatally, there wasn’t a lot of optimism but I was just impressed with what the team did for her and how hard everyone worked and how dedicated everyone was.

“We just had one small win at a time and she got through. We’ve got great outcomes too — she’s a happy, healthy little girl.”

Mr Johnson, who is nominated in the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards 2020, knew by the time his daughter was out of the intensive care nursery that he wanted to be part of the team that saved her life. “The culture here is really good ... and to be able to help babies like my daughter does mean a lot to me as well,” he said.

There is still a massive shortage of male nurses in Western Australia, with numbers only creeping up marginally in recent years. Men only make up 9 per cent of the State’s 37,683 nurses — up from 8.6 per cent in 2016 — and less than 2 per cent of the Child and Adolescent Health Service Neonatology workforce.

WA Health Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer Dr Robina Redknap said fast-paced areas such as emergency medicine and mental health tended to attract more male nurses, while neonatology was often still viewed as a feminine career choice.

“Sometimes the new dad gets a little bit left out when new babies are born and the care is all around the mum and the baby,” she said. “It’s also about that psychological support and being able to connect with the dad. It’s a huge bonus if we can get males into those areas.”

Dr Redknap said a work experience program for high school students was among a number of initiatives that had been launched to promote men in nursing.

She said creating gender diversity in the health workforce was important to provide more choice for patients.

Crown Perth and The West Australian have launched a $250,000 campaign to thank all nurses in WA for their extraordinary work for our community. We are looking for 250 nurse to enjoy a staycation with a companion at the five-star resort, including fine dining and pampering at Crown Perth’s luxury spa. West Australians are being asked to nominate a nurse to take part in this special experience.

To nominate a nurse, click here.