Joan Pons Laplana, Project Choice Area Manager, NHS England is a finalist in the Patient's Choice Award in the RCN Nursing Awards 2023
Joan - known as Jo - was nominated by Graham Rodgers who nearly died from a stroke after Covid-19.
Graham says: ‘I spent 11 weeks in the Hallamshire Hospital ITU, then weeks on the stroke ward. I owe my life to the many consultants, doctors, dedicated nurses and all who work at our amazing hospitals. But Jo deserves a special nomination.
‘As I could not have any visitors, my brother Alan called ITU three times a day to see how I was. Jo assured him that he would be my brother in his place and take good care of me.
‘Jo spent lots of time talking to me while I was in my coma. Alan mentioned that I was a musician and used to live in Nashville writing songs. Jo played them on a small speaker by my bedside. He noticed my heart rate increased when my music was played - that I was in there somewhere.
‘I remember hearing some music at the end of a long dark corridor. The music got louder and I heard women talking about the songs and realised that the songs were mine. That is when, to the delight of everyone, I finally woke up!
‘Jo came to see me straight away but I didn’t recognise him or remember his chats with me. I was transferred to the stroke ward and wondered about the “Spanish Jo” who’d been such a part of my adventure.
‘I finally got in contact with Jo and it was a very emotional conversation.
‘After the stroke damage I could no longer play the guitar or sing. I was devastated but my friends encouraged me to return to music, resulting in a comeback concert in December 2022.
‘Some of the ITU nurses came to see me including Jo. I had to learn guitar all over again to do this but Jo knew how much it meant to me. He was with me all the way helping, organising and getting me to TV studios and radio stations. I found out that Jo has been diagnosed with PTSD from working as an ITU nurse during the pandemic and had to leave his role.
‘He is still working for the NHS and he spends a lot of his time fundraising for NHS charities by writing and self-publishing a book on his experiences as a nurse and selling it online. Jo also runs marathons, raising funds for Chesterfield Ashgate Hospice. He is an amazing person.
‘We met in terrible circumstances but are now in regular contact and he remains interested in my welfare and ongoing recovery. He never stops giving me encouragement. The world is a much better place for having Jo in it!’
Joan says: ‘I feel over the moon to be nominated for this most prestigious award. As a nurse you want to make a difference and the fact that one of your patients decided to take time to tell his story and how I made a difference to them is incredible.’