Stephanie Kondos -Worker return to work achievement award - Melbourne Health
Worker return to work achievement award - 2012 Awards
The Royal Melbourne Hospital is one of Melbourne’s pre-eminent hospitals. It provides world-leading clinical care, extensive surgical and medical expertise and outstanding research, built on its foundation as a university teaching hospital. North Western Mental Health is the mental health arm of Melbourne Health and includes the Aged Persons Mental Health which employs Carer Consultants like myself.
Describe your job prior to your injury.
Carer Consultant within the Aged Persons Mental Health Program of North Western Mental Health, the mental health arm of Melbourne Health. I travelled to three residential units and one Acute hospital unit as part of the Carer Support Program and worked with Carers and with staff.
How were you injured and what was your injury?
I attend regular meetings at a busy hospital location.
I parked my car. As I was walking through the car park I was struck by a car, thrown forward and then, as I sat on the ground with my right leg in front of me, watched as the car drove over my right foot and ankle. This resulted in multiple fractures of the foot and a severe crush injury. More than a year later I am being assessed for an Implanted Pain Therapy device for a serious permanent condition arising from this injury. I am unable to drive and still use crutches more than a year later.
Describe the job you do now (including employer if different).
Modified duties mainly in the office. This includes running a Career Support Fund, publishing a carers' newsletter and working on projects with various colleagues. In May, for three days I travelled by taxi, arranged by work, to be part of an accreditation process at residential units.
What were the hardest and best things about returning to work?
It was both emotionally and physically challenging to return to work.
The best thing was being with my colleagues as individuals and as a team member. I enjoy their company. It was good to be reminded that I had unique skills and knowledge that was valued by the program.
The hardest thing was asking for help. Aiming to work within my limits so at the end of the day I felt productive and not overwhelmed was difficult. Before the injury I fancied myself a bit of a dynamo of competence. It was hard to think I may be seen as otherwise! I found it difficult to settle into one location and missed being able to drive to the various units and see all the carers and staff face to face.
What do you think helped you most to return to work and get your life back?
I am lucky to have the care of a GP and a physiotherapist who communicate with each other and with me. Not only about medicine and oedema and deep tissue injury, but also about how I was feeling, sleeping, and occupying myself as well as long term implications arising from this injury. I relied on my Return to Work Consultant to guide me through the whole process of paperwork and gradual return to work. His patience and experience were invaluable to me. On the bad days they were all very kind.
What advice would you give other injured workers?
Take full advantage of every possible service and support that is offered by your doctors and your employer. Be willing to ask for what you need at each stage of your recovery.
Acknowledge your negative as well as positive emotions otherwise they will catch up with you! No matter how much family or work members depended on you in the past they are usually willing to contribute to your recovery when you need them. None of us expect to be injured at work but there is a system in place when we are.
I wish I could walk as I used to but I won’t. I am hoping to be able to work in a similar way as I used to at some point, so I can support my daughter and pay off my house. At least I can return to that!
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