International Nurses Day is on 12 May each year to mark the contribution that nurses make to healthcare and society. The day is celebrated on the birthday of Florence Nightingale who is considered to be the founder of modern-day nursing. In recognition, Right to Care (RTC) salutes all nurses that work across its HIV and Covid-19 programmes. To celebrate the day, three nurses working in RTC’s USAID-funded APACE programme have been selected to share their stories.
I want the next generation to be HIV-free
Tselane Lekotlopo is based at the Harrismith clinic in the Free State. Last year, she was selected as RTC’s employee of the year. “I treat health seriously,” says Tselane. “I work with young people who are HIV positive to help them accept their condition and stay on their treatment. I instill confidence and pride in my patients. Health literacy is also a key focus for me. I want the next generation to be HIV-free.
“I always update myself on the latest guidelines and consult with our specialists. When a patient lacks support, I work with their family to help them provide the care required at home. All patients are equal to me, regardless of their culture, beliefs or where they come from. I try to be a companion to patients on their treatment journey.”
Through Tselane’s dedication, young HIV positive patients in the Harrismith clinic are now virally suppressed, men and woman have returned to care, families are supported, and a group of young women living with HIV are now empowering other young women to live well with HIV. Through her support of the MINA programme, men have come to the facility, while partners of HIV-positive patients have come forward to test.
Although she is young, she is the most senior RTC staff member at the facility. Every day, she demonstrates passion for her work and commitment to quality patient care. She mentors and trains clinic staff and quickly irons out issues so that the clinic runs efficiently.
I focus on making a difference in patients’ lives
Duduzile Duma is at the Intabazwe clinic in Harrismith. “My passion for nursing started when I watched my late mother suffer from cervical cancer and the effects of chemotherapy,” she says. “I focus on making a difference in patients’ lives by providing them with the right resources to achieve compliance and adherence. I monitor their progress routinely. Any patient that needs psycho-social support is referred to the appropriate health practitioner.”
Duduzile is not just a great clinician, but also a good leader. She loves her patients and serves them diligently by helping them with problems, especially around adherence to their treatment. When there are issues with programme performance or patient outcomes, Duduzile works with the team to come up with solutions. She doesn’t shy away from challenges but tackles them head on.
Through Duduzile’s commitment to her job and her collaborative approach, missed appointments at the clinic have decreased, as have patients’ viral loads. Clinic staff feel supported by Duduzile, who assists them with any difficulties.
I help people and change their lives
Lemohang Ntsie is based at the Mphohadi clinic in Bethlehem. “A personal life experience made me become a nurse,” says Lemohang. “I was raised by my grandmother, who was sick. I would rub her back in the evenings before she slept and on Saturdays I would soak and wash her feet. I saw and felt the comfort that this brought her.”
Lemohang is dedicated and makes a concerted effort to improve patient care. She doesn’t judge patients when they miss appointments but rather helps them feel welcome so that they are comfortable to return to the clinic for their follow up appointments.
She adds, “Being a nurse has allowed me to help people and change their lives. My approach is a holistic one. I work with patients in a calm, warm and accommodating way. I consider the whole person, not just their health condition. I am committed to health promotion so that patients can build their health and not fear their next appointment.”
To deepen her understanding and management of health issues in the community, Lemohang is studying towards a postgraduate diploma in public health.