Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
SISTER LYDIA Harriott has made her mark in the nursing profession, spending all of 37 years.
Last week Thursday, she spent her last day on the job at the Percy Junor Hospital as she was going off on pre-retirement leave, which her co-workers and friends say she justly deserves. She spent most of her working years at the Spalding, Clarendon, facility
Harriott is from Colleyville, Manchester, where she attended the Bryce Primary School, then went to Knox College.
With the desire to be a nurse, she enrolled in the Kingston School of Nursing and graduated as a registered nurse (RN) in 1975.
"From I was a little girl, I just loved nursing. My grandmother was very ill. She had asthma so I have been always looking after her even when she had asthma attacks. I wanted to be a nurse from then," she related.
After graduating from nursing school, Harriott worked at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston for five years. She started working at the Percy Junor Hospital on October 1, 1980, and remained there until going on pre-retirement leave.
During that time, she returned to the Kingston School of Nursing to be trained as a midwife, and was also trained as a sister in 2001. She has worked in that capacity at Percy Junor since then.
In describing her time spent in the nursing profession, Harriott said: "It has been good over the years. It's something that you get a lot of self-satisfaction from. You feel satisfied at the end of the day that you have done something great, that you have served humanity, you helped somebody out."
She added, "In nursing, you are not just dealing with sickness, you have to deal with the spiritual part of the person, as well as the social part and emotional part. It's a holistic thing in helping in whatever way that you can. Those things help in the patient recuperating better and quicker."
Looking at the early days at Percy Junor as a nurse, Harriott said it was much harder compared to now. She explained, "In those days, you had two wards to be in charge of, both medical and surgical, and you had just one registered nurse and one enrolled nurse.
"There was a sister in charge and when she is not on duty, it's just the RN. Sometimes you had a ward assistant. You never had much in those days, so you were very tired at the end of the day."
Harriott said that with more nurses and doctors working now, as well as the improved facilities at Percy Junor and at other hospitals, the job is much easier for nurses.
She recounted one of her most memorable moments as a nurse. "It was the first delivery I did on my own in 1999. I wasn't supervised and I managed it on my own. The baby was a boy. I felt so good and was amazed by nature itself."
She has delivered countless babies since then.
"Sometimes people come back and say, 'Nurse, this is the child you delivered'. It's really a good feeling," she remarked.
Asked if she could live her life all over again, if she would choose to be a nurse, Harriott responded, "Yes, I would - without a second thought."