“The nursing profession is mentally, physically and emotionally demanding, and our healthcare system would be hard-pressed to function without it. Nurses have to be caring, resilient and have excellent clinical knowledge, all at the same time.”
So says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s Hospital division, speaking on International Nurses Day, 12 May.
According to Katinka Rheeder, who heads up the only dedicated private burns unit in the country, at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, nursing is a most rewarding profession, which requires a number of very special qualities. “It is a vocation, and is certainly not for everyone.”
Rheeder adds: “I am often deeply impressed by how emotionally strong our nursing professionals are. Here at the Netcare Milpark Hospital burns unit, for example, we deal with the very worst burns cases from around the country and from Africa and this demands a high degree of mental strength.”
Netcare Milpark Hospital general manager, Anton Gillis, pictured with clinical nurse specialist, Malefu Zungu and burns unit manager, Katinka Rheeder says nurses deserve recognition and gratitude for their work all year round.
“Although our success rates in treating burns victims are impressive, our nursing staff have to deal with patients whose health is highly compromised on a daily basis. This is tough – really tough – and it takes a very special, dedicated person to provide them with and compassionate, quality care. Yet, our nursing staff do more than is asked of them with the utmost professionalism day after day.”
Malefu Zungu, clinical nursing specialist in the burns unit, knows just how tough being a nursing professional in the burns unit can be. She has been a nurse for 16 years and has worked in the burns unit since its inception in 2008, having clocked up considerable experience in trauma nursing before then.
“In the burns unit, each patient has dedicated nursing and we get really close to our patients and their loved ones. Because of the strict infection control measures, we spend most of our 12-hour shifts in an isolation cubicle with our patients. Although we witness miracles and inspirational stories of hope first hand, we also sometimes have cases that unfortunately, and despite our very best efforts, do not have happy endings,” she explained.
Zungu says that through years of experience, trauma and burns unit nurses develop coping mechanisms that carry them and their patients through the emotionally hard times.
“We develop a mental toughness that sustains us through the fast-paced and intricate work we do. I have learned to tap into hidden reserves to keep going, even after a long and gruelling shift,” she adds.
“The management of Netcare Milpark Hospital is very supportive and provide access to counselling services, which is an invaluable resource. Also, working in such a close-knit team, we support one another but also give each other space when needed.”
And yet despite the fact that the profession can be hard, Zungu says she finds deep satisfaction and meaning in her work. “It is very real; you are helping people to get through some of greatest struggles of their lives. I feel a great sense of privilege in being able to do this work and to know that I am making a meaningful difference in the lives of my patients and their families,” Zungu said.
Anton Gillis, general manager of Netcare Milpark Hospital added: “It takes a very special kind of person to be a nurse. Nurses dedicate their lives to the service of others and they deserve our recognition and gratitude.”
“Our nurses are integral in the very fabric of Netcare Milpark Hospital. We are truly thankful for the considerable contribution that our nurses make not only to the hospital, but to the wellbeing of our communities. Without them our hospital would not be able to deliver the kind of quality care that we have become known for,” Gillis says.
Du Plessis concludes: “Nurses are fundamental to the proper functioning of healthcare facilities throughout South Africa. Let us recognise them this International Nurses Day and every other day for their dedication in caring for the people of our nation.”
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Milpark Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Wilson or Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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