Forty years to the day of Lynne Palmer’s last day of nursing school, she had her last day on the job as a nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Following her retirement at the end of the summer, Palmer received the Lifetime Achievement award during Fraser Health’s Above and Beyond awards in late September. Palmer was most recently a perinatal clinical nurse specialist for the Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth program at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Palmer, who lives in North Delta, said she felt “totally honoured” to be receiving the award.
“The things that I think my peers recognize me for was seeing how we could improve quality and going out and thinking of a new model of care that would fill a gap or change things or provide a different way of providing the care,” Palmer said.
Before spending 17 years at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Palmer started her career at Vancouver General Hospital’s School of Nursing.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was in Grade 9,” said Palmer, who was born in White Rock.
She said the mother of one of her friends was actually a nurse at Surrey Memorial Hospital at the time.
“I just thought she was an amazing person and that made me want to be a nurse, too.”
Palmer worked at Vancouver General Hospital, starting out caring for general surgical patients and occasionally providing end-of-life care.
She then moved on to maternity care at VGH before moving to B.C. Women’s Hospital (then Grace Hospital) where she spent nearly two decades.
“I always thought in nursing (about) the two ends of the life cycle… it’s just such a privilege to be with people at those transitions — to see life come, and life go,” Palmer said. “I can’t believe that nurses get this opportunity to actually participate and be with people that are going through these transitions.”
Palmer was hired at Surrey Memorial Hospital in April 2001 to implement the antepartum care at home program. Just a few months later in September, according to a news release from Fraser Health, Palmer “had this unique approach to caring for women with complicated pregnancies at home and running at Surrey Memorial, just as it was at B.C. Women’s Hospital.”
Palmer said the implementation of the antepartum program in Fraser Health is seen as her “legacy,” but she said the program was originally started in Winnipeg.
“We wanted to see if it was equally safe for women with specific complications in pregnancy to received care from home versus in hospital,” she said. “Everything I’ve started or done, it’s honouring and respecting women for their knowledge of their own bodies and giving them that autonomy to be partners in their care.”
Last year, Palmer led a research team to evaluate and compare hospital care and home care on maternal and newborn outcomes for women with preterm pre-labour rupture of membranes.
With another team, Palmer developed another tool and protocol to help perinatal nurses recognize signs of deterioration early in unwell obstetric patients. This project won Palmer’s team a Salus Global MOREOB Patient Safety award for Western Canada.
Palmer also worked with a team to develop a tool called “Baby Pause” that enhances communication about fetal well being in labour.
Asked what she misses the most about her job, Palmer said “all the incredible people” that she has worked with and that have “transformed her.”
Palmer likened it to a kaleidoscope she saw at Telus World of Science recently.
“There’s this beautiful kaleidoscope… It’s this little round table and rotates when pushed with plastic shapes of different colours and then a camera on the ceiling that constantly takes pictures and projects a beautiful, changing mosaic on the wall as people add (to it),” said Palmer. She added that people would come through and add their own colours and shapes, some would push the kaleidoscope quickly, while other would slow it down.
“As I sat there and watched these kids coming and going, I thought, this is just like the incredible, remarkable people that I’ve worked with over my career. They have their own colour, their own shape to the patterns that I followed through my career, and some push for faster action and some want to just slow things down. Some come for a long time, and others just long enough to leave a design on my heart.”