Dr Edward (Ted) Ward of Napier, who was a pioneer of intensive care practice in New Zealand hospitals, has been honoured with a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit — for services to intensive care.

"When I heard that I was to receive this honour I was surprised and overwhelmed to have been nominated for an award such as this," he said.

After graduation, and seven years specialising, he took up the role of director of anaesthesia and intensive care in Hawke's Bay in 1974, and continued with that role until 1997 — pioneering the establishment and provision of intensive care services to the Hawke's Bay region.

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He was one of the first to take on the role of intensive care specialist in regional New Zealand and contributed to advancing adult, paediatric and neo-natal intensive care.

Ward was also involved in establishing a newborn intensive care unit in Hawke's Bay as well as developing ongoing training for other staff and undertook design improvements to ICU equipment.

Dr Edward (Ted) Ward of Napier, says he was
Dr Edward (Ted) Ward of Napier, says he was "surprised and overwhelmed to have been nominated for an award such as this".

He said while anaesthesia was a well-established speciality in medicine during the 1960s intensive care was in its infancy, and said when he returned to Hawke's Bay in the 1970s it was becoming a major requirement in New Zealand hospitals and he devoted himself to its development.

Ward instigated patient-retrieval services by road and air linked to other regional hospitals which brought patients to the Hastings ICU where he could directly access and supervise their immediate and ongoing care, and the result of those services was an ever-improving rate of "quality-life survival for adults and children".

He was a founder member of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society and was chairman of the New Zealand Regional Committee from 1978 to 1982, and was Medical Director of the local St John Ambulance until 1995.

"I have worked over the years with many talented doctors and wonderful nurses," he said, telling how in the early "demanding" days a close medical team developed with colleagues Drs Forbes Bennett, Roger Scott and Barry Lavery.

Ward is still involved with intensive care medicine for now, although he said he would be retiring from the practice with the HBDHB next April but would do so comfortably.

"I know the region is well supplied with specialists in intensive care medicine and anaesthesia," he said.

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"However, it is important to remember that the main reason critically ill patients survive is with the support of experienced intensive care nurses at the bedside, 24/7 in ICU."