Lee Stewart is the picture of reassurance as he greets patients who are about to face an operation.
With a smile and with calmness personified, he helps people as they prepare for surgery.
I see patients when they are at their most vulnerable. I see them when they are scared but it is about striking up a friendship and being reassuringLee Stewart
It’s no easy task but he does it with all the skill of a seasoned professional who has spent ten years in health work.
And he’s just one example of the superb health workers at the Royal Hospital in Sunderland.
The operating department practitioner has a multi-rolled job which includes assisting the anaesthetist. But just as important is his role as the first point of contact for patients about to go for an operation.
He’s the person who befriends the person and tries to ease their nerves while they wait to go into theatre, and it is a role he adores. The man who started out as a theatre porter ten years ago is now in his dream role.
He said: “Patient contact is the best part of what I do. I used to be a taxi driver so I have always worked with people.
“I see patients when they are at their most vulnerable. I see them when they are scared but it is about striking up a friendship and being reassuring.
“They are coming to a strange place. They are seeing weird and wonderful things.
“But then, if you see them after the operation, they do say thanks and there is a lot of gratitude, and patient contact is the best part of what I do.”
That reassuring manner has health benefits for the patient. There’s physiological proof that patients benefit from being calmer as they go into an operation.
Lee’s example is reflected throughout the health profession and that’s why we want to reward the elite through the Sunderland Echo Health Awards.
The awards recognise the excellent work done by all aspects of the health service, whether its behind-the-scenes heroes or frontline staff.
And it’s down to our readers to make sure the very best of our health profession get the recognition they deserve.
But to do that, we need your nominations in the categories listed below.
The competition is being held in association with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, with NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group as partner sponsors and Olivers Dental Studio as category sponsors.
So all we need now is for you to highlight the people who have helped you most.
The very best will make it to our grand finals, to be held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland on April 14.
To nominate, either fill in the form in today’s paper or visit www.jpne-events.co.uk.