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Intensive Care Unit Matron at KGH receives MBE

Kettering General Hospital’s Matron for Critical Care Services, Joanna Snow, has received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for her exemplary work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
An Intensive Care Unit Matron at Kettering General Hospital has received the MBE on the  New Year’s Honours List announced today .
 
Matron for Critical Care Services, Joanna Snow, received the award for her services to the NHS and patients, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
Mrs Snow, 49, from Fleckney, Leicestershire, supported and led a team of up to 140 KGH Intensive Care Unit staff to prepare for the pandemic and cope with the consequent large influx of critically ill patients.
 
She said she is ‘immensely proud and touched’ to have received the award – which she feels symbolises the work of her whole team during the pandemic.
 
She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I received the notification – I love my job and I felt this was a reward for my whole team, and all those who joined our team from other parts of the hospital, during the pandemic.
 
“Coping with Covid-19 is the hardest thing I have experienced in 30 years of nursing and it has been a very anxious and physically and emotionally draining time for all of us – and continues to be so.
 
“My involvement has been helping lead the team that prepared for Covid-19. We doubled the number of intensive care beds at the hospital from 15 to 29. That involved ordering tens of thousands of pounds of extra equipment and turning a medical assessment unit into a 14-bed ICU.”
 
Mrs Snow is married to Robert, an NHS manager, and has two children, Christopher, 18, and Juliet, 12. She worked long hours on the front-line, often in full PPE, supporting staff and patients and ensuring that all the problems the pandemic created could be promptly addressed.
 
She has worked in the NHS, mostly in intensive care, for the last 30 years and at KGH as matron in charge of intensive care for the last four years.
 
She said: “I think the main thing was that I had to be calm. So many different things happened that I knew I had to stay in control of and keep the whole team on board and up to date with what we were doing.
 
“We did a huge amount of preparation for the pandemic and that really helped. I was thinking about it all the time and getting up in the night sometimes to write things to do to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
 
“Our Intensive Care Unit is like a family and that has really helped us – and continues to help us – in our response to the pandemic.
 
“We know each other very well and we have a lot of camaraderie which helped us to cope. During the pandemic our team grew from 75 to about 140 with staff redeployed to join us from across the Trust.
 
“People have been amazing and I want to thank everyone who has worked to support our response.”
 
In the peak of the first wave of the pandemic up to 20 of the 29 ICU beds were in use and sadly there were a significant number of patient deaths.
 
Jo said: “I have never seen so many people who were so terribly ill for such a long time. We have had patients on the unit for several weeks. Some of the hardest things have been not being able to allow relatives to visit.
 
“We do so much to support relatives normally that it felt very hard for us all to have to liaise with them over the phone and while wearing PPE. We do everything we can to support them but it is very hard when you can’t do things face to face.”
 
Jo said the pandemic has demonstrated some positive things – particularly the amazing way her team have worked together to support patients, and each other, and also the way in which the local community got behind the hospital.
 
She said: “I want to thank all of those individuals who have supported us. We were flooded with gifts during the first wave of the pandemic.
 
“I also want to thank all of the other KGH teams who did so much to help us. So many people have been involved to make sure we had the right PPE and equipment, the right staff with the right skills and training, the right amount of emotional support through the Open Office and chaplaincy. All of this helped us to cope and respond well to all the challenges the pandemic has brought for us.”
 
The MBE stands for Member of the Order of the British Empire – it is the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, behind CBE which is first and then OBE. It recognises the achievement and services of individuals from all walks of life who have made a positive impact, particularly in their work or contribution to their community.
Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Leanne Hackshall, said: “Jo Snow has done an absolutely amazing job leading her team through the most difficult period in the NHS’s history.
 
“Her incredible courage, brilliant leadership skills, sensitivity and humanity, have helped shape our response to Covid-19 and supported many local families, and her own team, in the most difficult of times.
 
“It is very fitting and appropriate that she is one of a relatively small number of NHS staff who have received a national honour for their exemplary work during Covid-19 pandemic.
“I know that everyone at KGH will be immensely proud and uplifted that one of our own has been chosen as an example of the best in the NHS.”