A nurse practitioner based at Wellington Hospital’s NICU was recently named Neonatal Nurse of the Year for her contribution to the Neonatal Nurses College Aotearoa NZNO and the wider community.

Originally from the UK Paula Dellabarca first started at Wellington’s neonatal intensive care unit in 1999 as a registered nurse and said she felt she wouldn’t have the award without the support of the ward team.

“The consultants here have either mentored me or got me through academic papers, my nurse manager flies the flag for nurse education, and if it weren’t for the hard work of the nurses in the unit I would have sunk a long time ago.”  Dellabarca became an NP in 2015 and has helped implement pulse oximetry screening – testing oxygen levels in babies’ blood – to identify congenital heart problems, and completed an audit of the past decade’s outcomes for pre-term babies born at 23-24 weeks.

Along with being a member of the Neonatal Nurses College Aotearoa, she has been a member of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand sub-committee for policy development, part of a newborn clinical resource group, and works with the Ministry of Health on service specifications for NICUs.

Wellington NICU nurse manager Rosemary Escott said Dellabarca was highly thought of by her peers both locally and further afield.

“She is a very high achiever, and has shown this in her endless drive and dedication in her studies and leading the way as a neonatal nurse practitioner. She is a well-deserved recipient of this award.”

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