Over my career I have been most fortunate to have worked with many outstanding dedicated health care professionals.
Right up there is Flo McEwan who sadly died a few days ago following a short illness.
Flo was born and brought up in Rothesay. She left school at 16 and was employed as a catering assistant at the Glenburn Hotel for two years before training as a nurse. Her training took place between the Victoria Hospital in Rothesay and at Inverclyde Royal Hospital. She remained in Rothesay for three years, before writing to all the main hospitals in Glasgow to request further experience.
Stobhill responded positively and a 33-year association with that hospital began.
Flo was involved in all aspects of delivery of cardiology services at Stobhill including coronary care, the dedicated cardiology wards and, more recently, within the department of cardiac rehabilitation.
After the transfer of acute cardiology services to the Royal Infirmary, Flo spent a number of years within acute cardiology there before transferring to cardiac rehabilitation for both hospitals.
It was typical of Flo to volunteer to go back on the frontline supporting the ward staff during the pandemic. She worked there up until the day of her hospital admission in March.
In recent years Flo has been involved in volunteer medical work in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This was through Comfort International which said: “Flo was a committed supporter and a deeply thoughtful, kind and selfless friend. She was humorous and fun, constantly finding the best in situations and people and connected naturally with all.”
Her friends there remember her teaching the local children how to sing ‘‘Ye cannae shove yer grannie aff the bus.’’
Comfort International continued: “We will always think of Flo with deep fondness – it was impossible not to smile when she was around.”
Flo loved a challenge to raise funds for charity including abseiling down the Stobhill clock tower. She was full of fun and on one occasion I arrived on the ward to find a giant doctor in a white coat. It turned out to be another nurse on Flo’s shoulders. Evidently I said “Good morning Flo” and carried on with the ward round!
Flo’s death brought memories back of another colleague, Dr Kerry-Jane Hogg, who died ten years ago.
Like Kerry, Flo survived just a few months after the diagnosis was made. They shared the qualities of care, compassion and professionalism.
I last met Flo just before lockdown. I would go into the gym for an early morning work-out and Flo had already arrived for work.
We communicated a few weeks ago and I quote from her email:“ The next few weeks may be a challenge but I really am the luckiest person as I have the most wonderful friends, family and colleagues. I hope to be back at my post in cardiac rehab soon.’’
Flo’s funeral provided a fitting tribute for the small number allowed to attend due to the pandemic and, appropriately, the cortège took a detour through the grounds of Stobhill Hospital and 200 colleagues and friends were able to give her an emotional send off with prolonged applause. I was pleased to hear that donations in memory of Flo will go towards funding a nurse in her name in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a perfect legacy to a wonderful nurse and a special person.