Celebrating International Nurses’ Day with Anova Health Institute Nurses

International Nurses' Day takes place each year on the 12th of May to mark the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and to celebrate the nursing profession.

In the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses all over the world were in the frontline and are still continuing to save our communities. As we celebrate this year’s International Nurses’ day, Anova Health Institute honours all our nurses and what they continue to do.

In commemorating this special day, we journey with our nurses who highlight the significance of their profession during this pandemic, being a voice to lead and a visionary for future healthcare.

Daleen Wilhelmina Carolissen, Western Cape, who started her career in Poly Clinic at Tygerberg Hospital in 1993, says she’s wanted to be a nurse since she was 17. Daleen has been with Anova Health for 16 months now. This is her journey.

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?

At the tender age of 17, I accompanied my Grandma to hospital where I firsthand witnessed the compassion and care from Nurses.

Please tell us about your role at Anova.

I am currently employed as an Area Manager at Anova APACE Western Cape for the Northern District, where I am managing teams in collaboration with other line managers to enable them to provide Health System Strengthening and Quality improvement to the Department of Health. I am responsible for program reports to the Cluster Manager, I am also responsible to develop and plan strategies to achieve the 95-95-95 in HIV/TB in our Sub-district. I provide Clinical training and advice to Clinicians in the HIV/TB field and support the implementation of new projects like PREP to the Sub-district.

What do you love most about being a nurse?

I know that through my career I can influence change, and changing people’s lives for the better is the best reward, even if it’s only by providing the highest standard of care and respect to our patients that makes me happy. Many life skills I have learnt through my career is to listen, how to communicate, when to lead, when to follow, when to be patient. The list is endless.

How have you managed to navigate working through a pandemic?

Gaining as much knowledge as I could about COVID – 19 and even providing training to others about the pandemic and how to deal with it helped a lot. Because of my adaptable nature, adjusting to the new normal was not disruptive to me.

The challenge was to influence others to follow suit.

What does International Nurses’ Day mean to you?

Personally, it is the one day in the year specially set aside for me to celebrate my colleagues across the universe, but especially those close to me. It also is an opportunity for those who we, as Nurses so passionately care for; to pause and just celebrate with us.

What advice would you give someone who would like to follow your career path? 

Becoming a Nurse have to be for the right reason which is to pledge yourself to the service of humanity as we so proudly say.

It is not an easy path, like all other careers it has its ups and downs, not all patients are appreciative or respectful-how you react to that is a choice- make the right one.

Mafoko Rachel Sesana, Capricorn, was only eight –  years old when she knew she wanted to be a nurse. Mafoko is a clinical nurse mentor and has been with Anova Health for five years. This is her journey.

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?

When I was 8 years old and in primary school, I was cast in a school play as a nurse and my mom went to a jumble sale to buy me a little white overall that I wore to the play and I remember feeling so clean and so proud of being a nurse

What and where was your first nursing job?

I went to the then Gazankulu College of Nursing and started as a student nurse and went to Nkhensani Hospital for practicals and worked for the first time as a professional nurse at Msengi Clinic.

Please tell us about your role at Anova.

I am working as a clinical nurse mentor, I am responsible for tele mentoring, on site mentoring and giving technical advice on matters related to HIV, TB and now COVID - 19. I also do file audits and sometimes direct service delivery through seeing of clients where possible and in-service trainings for staff when necessary.

What do you love most about being a nurse?

You get to work with people who come to you with a certain challenge or sickness not knowing how to help themselves but when they leave your consultation they are way better than they were when they arrive emotionally, physically and spiritually. You’re actually working with God to help His people.

How have you managed to navigate working through a pandemic?

Working as a team helps, the support of the company the provision of PPE and continuing with the updating on the new development on the virus.

What does International Nurses’ Day mean to you?

It means a day where at least nurses get credit for being heroes and heroines, and a day where we get to look at the masses of nurses and thank God that we are not doing this alone, but we have each other.

What advice would you give someone who would like to follow your career path?

They should be passionate and love people and know that in dealing with a person’s life there are no second takes, so they should be sure of what they are doing.

Busisiwe Tshabalala, COJ, was inspired to be a nurse by her grandmother. Busisiwe has been with Anova Health for two years, she is a Professional Nurse at Zola Community Health Clinic. This is her journey.

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, from as young as I can remember. My grandmother was a teacher, and I was always intrigued by her book collection. She noticed that I enjoyed reading on certain matters and gave me the idea that I should perhaps pursue nursing as a career.  And because I had so much respect for nurses, pursuing the career made sense.

What and where was your first nursing job?

My first job as a nurse was at Johannesburg Hospital, I worked in the trauma unit. It was quite an interesting unit to work in but I got discouraged by the lack of recourses, staff shortages and support. I applied for other jobs and got a lot of offers, but one offer that stuck on me was Anova Health. After getting the call from Anova, I did my research on the company and I was interested in the company’s values. Within a month of working at Anova, I fell that I made the right decision. I fell in love with serving the community.

Please tell us about your role at Anova Health.

I currently work as an Initiating Sister, my role is to make sure clients start and stay on their antiretroviral treatment (ARVs). I start clients on ARVs, I follow up with them, I treat any HIV related illness. My most important role is to develop and maintain a relationship with our clients so that I can make sure they’re knowledgeable when it comes to HIV, and make sure they’re not scared to come to the clinic anytime, even when they default on their medication.

What do you love most about being a nurse?

I love the fact that I can develop relationships with my patients, so they come back to the clinic. I love the fact that I am contributing to making sure more people living with HIV are on treatment. I love that I get to be part of a team that destigmatizes everything that comes with HIV.

How have you managed to navigate working through a pandemic?

The pandemic has had such a negative impact on us and the way we work, especially with trying to retain our clients. We’ve seen a huge increase in defaulters because clients were sent back during the beginning phase of lockdown, most of that did discourage our clients. We’ve also had colleagues getting infected by COVID and we’ve lost colleagues because of this. It’s been quite unfortunate. But we have managed to pull through and still survive because of the love of the job. We were fortunately because the company provided with PPE and information about the virus and how to protect ourselves and others.

What does International Nurses’ Day mean to you?

This one is going to be a bit different for me. It’s a reminder that we’ve lost so many frontline workers during this pandemic. A lot of nurses died while trying to protect their communities and that is heartbreaking. This International Nurses’ Day isn’t really one to celebrate but one to honour the nurses we’ve lost doing what they loved.

What advice would you give someone who would like to follow your career path?

Get exposure about the profession, get as much information as you can. We have information at our fingertips. If you can, visit clinics, hospitals or get someone who’s already in the profession to mentor you. Nursing looks easy but it’s not, but it’s also quite fulfilling. 

Elizabeth Betha, Sedibeng, who’s been with Anova since the start of the APACE program says she hasn’t always wanted to be a nurse but being a nurse was the best decision she has ever done. This is her journey.

When did you know you wanted to be a nurse?

I actually didn’t always want to be a nurse (laughs). I wanted to be an architect, but when I was in grade 10, my aunt fell ill and I took care of her. Our neighbour noticed how I was with my aunt and told me I should pursue nursing. After she said that, I noticed a lot of people started telling me I should be a nurse.

What and where was your first nursing job?

My first job interview was at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and unfortunately I didn’t make it because I was late. They called to give me another date and that’s when I realised this was meant for me. I worked at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for four years.

Please tell us about your role at Anova Health.

I am a professional nurse at Anova Health, my duties include initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment (ARVs). I start clients on ARVs and I follow up with them. I also work with DREAMS, so we focus on preventative measures, like PrEP, health education, Condom distribution etc. We educate people on HIV, prevent the spread of HIV, manage those on treatment and also retain them.

What do you love most about being a nurse?

There’s nothing that makes me feel happier than breaking chains. For the longest time, nurses have been seen as nonchalant and relaxed, it’s nice to be part of people who are here to change that narrative, we’re here to work and serve our communities. I am proud to work for an NGO that is determined to give quality care to patients. Nothing fulfils me more than seeing our patients move from stage 4 to stage 1. Being able to contribute in caring and saving lives fulfils me.

How have you managed to navigate working through a pandemic?

The pandemic has turned our world upside down, I am grateful that I work for a company that is big on communication. We’ve lost friends and colleagues but Anova was with us every step of the way. We had counselling sessions, we had PPE, we felt protected. I did get COVID but I made it. Working during a pandemic is challenging but I am managing thanks to the support.

What does International Nurses’ Day mean to you?

It’s a day to celebrate nurses, and I am not talking about the profession, I am talking about people who genuinely care about the people they serve. Every year on this day, I go through my nurses’ pledge and remind myself of the reasons why I chose this profession.

What advice would you give someone who would like to follow your career path?

If you’re not in it for the love of it and for the people, don’t pursue it. Being a nurse is about people. If you don’t care about human health, don’t come. You need to be passionate, compassionate and loving. You need to be able to love and care about a complete stranger to be a nurse. You deal with a lot as a nurse and you need to get into for the right reasons.

Anova thanks all the caregivers for your service during these times! Your courage and strength in the fight against COVID-19 is commendable. We thank you for always for stepping forward.

Happy International Nurses’ Day!!!

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