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Tintu - Clinical Team Leader

13 December 2021
Tintu Hero

Kia ora, my name is Tintu Varghese and I'm from India. I work as a Clinical Team Leader at the Mount Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) Health Centre. My responsibilities include the day-to-day clinical leadership of the Health Centre Staff and leading nursing activity to ensure quality healthcare is provided to the men in MECF.

I started working with Corrections in 2017 when I joined the team as registered nurse, after completing the bridging course as an internationally trained nurse. In 2019, I progressed to clinical team leader. Before coming to Corrections, I worked as an emergency department (ED) nurse in Saudi Arabia and an oncology nurse in India.

During my career, I have mostly worked in a hospital setting in emergency nursing. So, when I told people I was considering a health centre role at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, they were quite stunned. At the time, I felt a real need to try something different. These days, I share with family and friends that I love coming to work every shift and that I consider this as a lifetime job.

I have found that my ED skills work well at the MECF health centre. Similar to emergency nursing, Corrections’ healthcare is nurse-led, involves significant nursing autonomy and requires many of the skills I honed in ED, including quick triage, screening and assessments, emergency interventions and multi-tasking. I was able to become a Clinical Team Leader within a short period of time and feel proud of this achievement. I thrive on the adrenaline rush of my role and love the variety of every day.

Our primary focus is on identifying health risks and addressing issues before they become serious problems. The nurse-led clinic enables us to take the lead. Since we deal with patients on a regular basis, we're better at identifying their health issues quicker. We have several success stories where nurses identified red flags swiftly and referred patients to tertiary care in hospitals where they were diagnosed and treated for major illnesses. As nurses, we also encourage and guide the men in our care to take responsibility for their health and participate in their healthcare.

We have a great team of nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants and administrative support staff who excel in difficult situations. We also have a strong leadership team that empowers and encourages the staff to achieve their immediate and long-term goals through ongoing training and development. Staff are encouraged to attend various training programmes. Most importantly, we get a Friday afternoon every week which is dedicated to learning where team members or managers conduct training sessions for the whole team. Thanks to this approach, I have been able to update my skills in mental health assessments and leadership.

A topic of concern raised by family, friends and acquaintances relates to the safety of Health Centre staff. I can always reassure them that we are incredibly well supported by our well-trained custodial colleagues, who never leave us alone with the prisoners, and who would come to our aid immediately should our safety be at risk.

One of the aspects of my role I appreciate, is that our patients are always grateful not only for the treatment and support they receive from us, but also that we make time to listen to them. I also love the fact that I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of often vulnerable people. In some cases, the men have never visited a healthcare professional before and their consultation with us is their first ever.

I am grateful for my current role where I can support the health needs of my patients with the support of a group of talented healthcare professionals.


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