Meet Nursing Hero Finalist Guen Kernaleguen, Alberta Health Services

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Guen is an enterostomal therapy nurse, often called a wound care nurse, at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta. When Guen explains to patients and families what she does, she says she deals with “bummies on the tummy” (intestines out of the stomach), g-tubes, sore bums, and wounds.

What makes Guen unique is that she is the only enterostomal therapy nurse at the Stollery, providing care throughout the site, from intensive care to ambulatory clinics. While most nurses are specific to a unit, program, or area of a hospital, Guen provides care for all inpatients and outpatients who require wound care.

While working in adult care, Guen became interested in wound care. She took an 18 month course and became registered with the Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy. After completing her training, she transitioned to paediatric care at the Stollery in 2014. Since then, she has also completed her clinical masters in wound healing.

Every day for Guen is as different as the patients and families she cares for. Each time she meets with a family there is a lot of education to help patients and families learn methods and tricks that can make their lives easier. As a wound care nurse, she maximizes patient/family self-care through one-to-one education and consultation.

She also does a lot of healthcare provider teaching with bedside nurses and physicians, and collaborates with inter-disciplinary team members on a daily basis. With complex wounds, there are many things that need to be considered for children. Pain tolerance is lower for patients, so understanding how to accommodate each child is different, and can take a lot of time and understanding. Physicians time some of their interventions so that Guen can be included – she believes timing things around what works best for the family will lead to better outcomes for the entire care team, including the family.

While Guen can be found throughout the hospital, she spends a significant amount of time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU), working with some of the most complex pediatric cases at the Stollery.

When asking her colleagues if she is worthy of a nursing hero award, Dr. Vijay Anand, pediatric cardiac intensivist, was quick to vote for her.

Guen works around the clock, is the only person on call for what she does, and she takes care of the entire hospital. She is always available, willing to meet to discuss patients, and if she doesn’t already know the answer to your wound-care questions, she will find the answer. She is possibly the most dedicated healthcare provider I have ever seen. I don’t know how she does it. Before Guen started at the Stollery, we used to have pressure ulcers all the time in the PCICU. After she started, she worked with OT and PT, and she decreased the number of grade three or above pressure ulcers to zero (2015 and 2016). For a high-volume cardiac ICU, that is virtually unheard of.” –  Dr. Vijay Anand

 

Guen is involved in a number of research projects at the Stollery, and initiates and participates in research that expands nursing knowledge. She is presently working with team comprised of two intensivists and critical care Nurse Practitioner in intensive care to develop a wound assessment tool for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients. She is also involved in research with burn unit patients, aimed at improving the patient experience with dressing changes.

At the Stollery, family-centered care is a priority. Guen embodies that in all she does, and by providing continuity of care to patients and families. Last year, Guen was featured on the Stollery Facebook’s page for their Faces of the Stollery album. The photo received over 500 likes and 30 shares. Comments from patients, families and staff included:

Guen is the most amazing gal I met in the NICU. She was so sweet and caring and patient. She gave me the confidence to change my son’s ostomy bag and made us so comfortable every time she was around.  – Kelby

She is absolutely amazing, and I could never sing her praises enough. We worked closely together with my son & his 4 stomas throughout his entire stay, and I am just so grateful for all of her knowledge & advocacy. So many medical professionals were dumb founded by his ostomy site, and she barely batted an eye before helping me to become hands on with my child’s wound care. By the end, the cardex had “address Guen or Mom on dressings”. ❤❤❤ – Cherish

Guen’s smile, warmth, and calmness in a situation is infectious. She loves working with patients and families and really enjoys empowering parents to learn how to care for their kids and become comfortable with looking after certain aspects of their care. And it’s obvious that patients and families love working with her too.

Nominated by: Kristy Cunningham,

Executive Director of Critical Care and Respiratory Therapy

Stollery Children’s Hospital, Alberta Health Services