Jacinda Ardern has paid tribute to New Zealand’s new underdog superstar, Nurse Jenny, credited with saving the life of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Ms Ardern revealed on Monday that she used “the informal tactic” of finding Jenny McGee, 35, on Facebook and sending her a Facebook message to give her New Zealand’s support.
“We have thanked our frontline health workers in New Zealand many times and rightly so but I wanted to add an acknowledgement that many, many Kiwis work in health care around the world,” the prime minister said.
“They show the same commitment, same care, same work ethic that they do here.
“We are all very proud of them, especially you Nurse Jenny.”
The Southland nurse, who has been living and working as a nurse in London for the past eight years, was one of two nurses credited by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, with saving his life during his hospitalisation with the coronavirus “when things could have gone either way”.
Mr Johnson said Jenny from Invercargill “to be exact”, and Luis from Portugal, were the reason that “in the end, my body did start to get enough oxygen”.
“Because for every second of the night they were watching and they were thinking and they were caring and making the interventions I needed.
“So that is how I also know that across this country, 24 hours a day, for every second of every hour, there are hundreds of thousands of NHS staff who are acting with the same care and thought and precision as Jenny and Luis,” he said in a message from his country estate Chequers, where he is continuing to recover.
- Related: Boris Johnson’s thankyou message
Nurse Jenny’ was quickly identified by Kiwi media as 35-year-old Jenny McGee.
The Otago Daily Times reported that while Ms McGee was “overwhelmed by messages”, her parents Mike and Caroline back in New Zealand were extremely proud.
Mr McGee said his daughter “would give the same level of care to whoever it is that’s in that bed needing care and that’s what we’re so proud of.
‘‘She says ‘my job is to get people well and get them back home again’ and she does her best.’’
Ms McGee spoke to her parents by phone on Monday morning saying the UK press was on her doorstep wanting to talk to her, however she was now back at the hospital working in the ICU on a night shift.
Her brother, Bobby McGee, spoke to The New Zealand Herald about her work on Monday.
“We are all very proud of Jen, not just in the support she gave Boris – but what she has been doing helping everyday people,” he said.
“We spoke to her this morning – evening in the UK – and she was about to head off to do another night shift. She just saw it as another day and kept just saying she is just doing her job.
“Whilst she is blown away by Boris’ recognition, she is just really pleased to see the public recognition for the amazing work the NHS is doing – that made her really proud.”
A former student at Verdon College in Invercargill, McGee was described as “absolutely delightful” with a “caring and humble nature”.
Our sincerest admiration for the work and dedication of past pupil Jenny McGee who was singled out by UK Prime Minster…
And now, among the dozens of messages of support waiting for Ms McGee’s attention is from her prime minister back home.