Nurse who cared for Prime Minister interviewed by New Zealand media

Thursday 23 April 2020

St Thomas' Hospital exterior

Jenny McGee was one of two nurses thanked publicly by the Prime Minister after he received treatment for coronavirus at St Thomas’ Hospital earlier this month.

After receiving unprecedented international interest in her story, the critical care nurse who is originally from Invercargill in New Zealand, has given a one-off interview to TVNZ in her home country.

Jenny will not be doing any further interviews and the transcript is below.

Jenny McGee: “It was totally out of the blue and it was just shock.”

Jenny McGee, a lead intensive care nurse kept vigil by Boris Johnson's bedside for two days.

Jenny: “We're constantly observing, constantly monitoring.”

Reporter Daniel Faitaua: “Were you nervous?”

Jenny: “I've worked in intensive care for ten years, I'm a Sister, I've been in charge for five years and I've been in stressful situations and I was not fazed by this.”

Daniel: “Would you say Mr Johnson got extra special treatment because of who he is?”

Jenny: “No, We take it very seriously who comes into intensive care, these patients who come into us, it's a very scary thing for them so we don't take it lightly and he absolutely needed to be there.”

The 55 year old spent a week at St Thomas' hospital, three of those days in ICU…where they spoke about New Zealand.

Jenny: “Yup told him I was from Invercargill and he was interested to know about Invercargill.”

Daniel: “What was the toughest part of that shift?”

Jenny: “I think there was a lot of media interest about him being in hospital and to be honest that was the toughest of the lot, as a unit he was just another patient.”

After her shifts...another world leader reached out.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Jenny: “In the morning people were like Jenny you need to look at your Facebook and I was called a snob for not responding to Jacinda.

“She's a hero of mine. I think she's amazing, she just said how proud she was of me and the country was so proud and it was so heart-warming and that's something I will never forget.”

Daniel: “Did you respond?”

Jenny: “Yes I responded and she like messaged back immediately, a little bit of banter which again was surreal, a couple of emojis.”

Despite her high profile friends and global fame… her workmates are keeping her grounded.

Jenny: “I'm getting a lot of stick from my workmates...I'm loving it!

“My mother also famously said 'I twiddle with knobs' on one of her interviews and I am getting a lot of stick for that! Thank you mum.”

Light relief during dark times as the UK death toll passes 18,000.

Jenny: We're nursing other nurses, other doctors, other bus drivers, people who are doing what we're doing.

“People are dying without their loved ones around, so as much as we can be there to hold their hand it should be their family and that is heart-breaking to watch.”

But she credits her ICU team and her kiwi spirit for keeping her going

Jenny: “I'm so proudly New Zealand and we are a wonderful group of people who just get on with it when we're up against it. We have a can do attitude, it just comes naturally.”

And messages of support from kiwis around the world inject a daily boost. 

Jenny: “The messages are adorable, there are kids telling me they want to be a nurse, families saying how proud they are and it means so much right now, people will never know how much it means…but thank you.”

Last updated: March 2022

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