Jackie bids farewell to nursing after almost 40 years

Jackie Coates as a second year student nurse
Jackie Coates as a second year student nurse

Published on 19 May 2020

A senior nurse will swap patients for pets when she retires after 30 years with East Kent Hospitals – and almost 40 years as a qualified nurse.

Jackie Coates, ward manager of Clarke Ward at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, has been caring for patients since starting as an auxiliary nurse in 1977, and started working at the hospital in Canterbury in June 1990.

But the 61 year old will hang up her uniform for the last time at the end of the month, and is planning to spend her retirement volunteering with animal charities.

She said: “Nursing is what I have always wanted to do – my mum always said my dolls were in bandages rather than prams.

“It has been everything I have imagined and I have made life-long friendships. I love caring for people and the support of my colleagues.

“But now is the right time for me to go and I am looking forward to spending my time helping out with animal charities and more walks with my wonderful dog, Rosie.”

Jackie trained at Kings College, London, qualifying in 1981. During her career she has worked in orthopaedic and cardiovascular wards as well as intensive care, and she spent six months working on a surgical ward in New Jersey, America, in 1987.

When she joined the Kent and Canterbury Hospital it was as a Registered Nurse on Northbourne Ward, then she became a junior sister on Beresford Jones Ward. After working as acting sister on Lucas Ward she joined Clarke Ward, a urology ward, and has been ward manager for more than 20 years.

Most recently, her team have been combined with neighbouring Kent Ward, usually a vascular ward, to care for COVID-19 patients.

Jackie said: “I am so proud of my team. The way they are working with colleagues from Kent is absolutely amazing.

“They are just adapting and getting on with the job, and some have volunteered to help out in intensive care or in the urgent care centre.

“They are learning new skills and ways of working without complaint and I will miss them all so much when I leave.”