By Leon SuseranAs another International Nurses Day is celebrated today under the theme, ‘Closing the Gap: Millennium Development Goals: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3,Johnny Gaudreau Team North America Jersey, 2, 1’, we remember and honour dedicated and hardworking nurses throughout Guyana. Their efforts usually go unnoticed as they work assiduously to deliver quality health care in the various hospitals across the country. Nurses are the closest persons who interact and deal with patients. And at the New Amsterdam Hospital, it is clearly evident in nurses like Raul Marks,Valeri Nichushkin Jersey, who has been loving his profession for the past 22 years.Nurse Raul Marks making a bed in the ICU cozy for one of his patients.He dropped his garden tools and left his cash-crop garden at Alness, Corentyne, a little over two decades ago – 1991 to be precise – and entered the New Amsterdam School of Nursing to begin training as a Nursing Assistant. It was the infiltration of salt-water through the Alness koker into his garden which discouraged him from continuing to farm. But perhaps that was a blessing in disguise as Marks truly found his calling in life – becoming a nurse.“The salt water came in from the sea and so I was unable to continue my high passion for farming, because I like caring for plants—I had livestock too. And then I applied to do nursing.”After the completion of that programme, he worked for a while at the Port Mourant Hospital after which he decided to take the next step and upgrade his skills to become a Registered Nurse (RN). He enrolled for the Professional Nursing Programme at the Nursing School in 1997 and graduated in 2000. He also worked at the National Psychiatric Hospital (NPH).Marks, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse at the New Amsterdam Hospital for several years now, is perhaps the first individual a critically ill person would meet when they are shuttled into the emergency room ICU. Marks said that the first thing he does when he turns up in the ICU, is sign his time in the Supervisor’s Office and engage in the ‘handing- over taking – over’ procedure, whereby he formally takes over from nurse of the previous shift. “You then go and check the charts and see what medication the patients are on and we continue from there”.“I think nurses should keep focused…remember the Nurses pledge and through difficult times, put God in front and then follow”,Dino Ciccarelli Jersey, he stated.Working in the ICU, he has seen his fair share of patients who were very close to death. Even though many of the patients enter the ICU in very critical conditions, Marks and his fellow team of nurses, led by the doctors,Brandon Mashinter Jersey, work assiduously to ensure they instill every possible care to the ailing patients so that they can have a better chance at life.“We all will come together and work together and make sure that the patient makes it through and many times that is so—all of us in the unit put our hearts and hands together and salvage a lot of patients who were ‘going down’. Patients will die and this is the place they will come to when they are very critical. But we will try our best and summon the doctor on call and we will work along collectively in the various battles for life,” he noted.It is very rewarding, too, to see a patient very close to death entering the ICU and making a 180-degree turn and becoming well and healthy again.Nurse Marks with his two ICU shift colleagues, Melinda Patterson (L) and Alysia Trellis.“You feel hopeless and you go by their bedside and try to follow the treatment that the doctor ordered and the other nurses come along and give their all to make those patients get back on their feet—that is something very rewarding.”Patients who ingest poisons and chemicals, and those with cardiac conditions, surgical patients, and intestinal obstruction and kidney failures make up the bulk of persons who go into the ICU.There are seven nurses who work in the New Amsterdam Hospital’s ICU, with Dr. Ramsackal being the doctor -in- charge. They all work in shifts and at any given time there are three nurses per shift.“I can work any shift,Andrew Desjardins Jersey, I don’t have a problem. Once you are dedicated, nothing will be hard and once you like something, you don’t find it difficult. It’s a very noble profession and I love it very much,” Marks said.Marks reflected that he is learning every day.“Everything the doctors do,Kris Versteeg Jersey, I will look to see what they are doing and they could call me at any time, I am always there. I don’t be angry when they call. It’s a joy. With God’s help—I am a Christian, so I incorporate what I learnt in church with nursing”.His skills as a nurse are capitalized upon by his colleagues working in the other departments in the hospital. He related that quite often, other nurses would call on his expertise. “They may want something to be done and I go and assist…let’s say they need a nasogastric tube to be inserted or sometimes they want to ‘catch a vein’,Thomas Vanek Jersey, I willingly lend that assistance”.There are not too many males today in nursing and Marks believes that it is because they seek after the higher- paying jobs. He was even daring enough to boast that he has been told many times by his patients that ‘males make better nurses’.“The female patients always say that males make better nurses, because—I don’t know if it’s because it’s the opposite sex—maybe that’s the reason”, he stated with a smile.“I’ve heard patients say that they find male nurses tend to be more kind to them, but there are many female nurses that are very nice”.Marks is aware of the critical comments being made towards “rude” nurses and acknowledged that there are some nurses who behave in that manner.“Some nurses do not really know to speak to people. I don’t know if it is because of their upbringing…but it will affect the system. I always find one bad egg will spoil the whole tray. They should be more polite. If you look at the word ‘hospital’ it comes from the word ‘hospitality’ and we must always put ourselves in the person’s shoe…life will be different.”He is a dedicated father to two loving children: Raul Jr. and Roddel. His wife, Joan gives him the support he needs.It is nurses like Raul and his colleagues in the New Amsterdam Hospital’s ICU, such as Melinda Patterson and Alysia Trellis,Mikko Koivu Jersey, and many others, who make a difference in our health sector,Phillip Danault Jersey, quietly behind the hospital doors; and it is nurses like them who we honour on this Nurses Day 2013.