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City pays tribute to hard-working nurses

The City of Johannesburg is working on new plans and innovations to boost the nursing profession at all its primary healthcare facilities, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse said at the weekend.

She was a guest speaker at a service dedicated to the role of nurses in particular and the nursing profession in general at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Jabavu, Soweto, on Sunday October 23.

“We want a situation where when you go to a clinic as a patient you have access to an integrated service and professional help. In a single clinic you must be able to see a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, a physiotherapist and social worker, preferably all in one day.

“Some of us present our socioeconomic problems as illnesses. We then run to a clinic only to find that we are stressed because of unemployment. We must have employment agencies in clinics as well as career guidance practitioners,” Cllr Phalatse said.

She said the new administration would focus on the delivery of services as professionally, effectively and efficiently as possible. She also told the packed church that nursing played an important role in the lives of any nation.

“When you are born, the first person who receives you is a nurse. Teachers cannot teach if they are not well. Lawyers, judges and prosecutors cannot perform well in court when they are not well. Bank employees cannot look well after your money when they are not well. Nothing goes well if you are not well. Nurses come in that space to make sure that you are well,” Cllr Phalatse said.

A medical doctor by profession, Cllr Phalatse said even doctors needed nurses to be able to their job well. She said nurses studied for two to four years to qualify, while doctors studied for seven years.

“By the time we qualify as doctors, nurses will have been in the field for three or more years. Nurses know patients more than doctors do. As doctors we do ward rounds and spend little time with patients. Nurses are the ones who know patients passionately. They understand a patient better than doctors do. Doctors rely heavily on nurses,” she said.

Cllr Phalatse said for doctors to succeed in performing their duties well, a good and professional relationship between them and nurses was crucial. “Once that relationship is there, the beneficiary is none other than the patient. Patients should know very well that when they get well, the bulk of the work would have been done by a nurse. That is the person they need to thank.”

She said she was aware that nursing had been the most difficult job to perform four many.

“This is not because nurses are unable to perform. It is because of the environment under which they work. Often nurses work up to 12 hours looking after about 100 patients in a ward in a single day. A nurse is expected to know each and every patient’s problem.

“Sometimes these nurses go beyond the call of duty. They end up being social workers in the ward. Being physiotherapists. Being lawyers. Remember that social workers and other specialist health practitioners do ward visits. They don’t stay in the ward like nurses do. Nurses become everything to patients once those professionals are gone,” she said.