Thabisa Ngcakaza, a professional nurse from St Andrews District was awarded one of the best rural nurses at the 22nd Rural Health Conference held at the weekend in Henley on Klip, Gauteng. Ngcakaza shared her journey of saving lives while she worked at Bethesda Hospital in the rurals of Umkhanyakude District with the Daily Vox.
I studied in Mthatha General Hospital where I did my four-year comprehensive diploma in nursing in 1992-1997 and started working in King Edward Hospital in Durban between 1999 and 2000. As a professional nurse in various units such as surgical and acute medical, whilst there I studied a postgraduate diploma in Occupational Health Nursing at University of Zululand. In 2001 I went back to Kokstad where I worked in Antenatal Clinic mostly and then went further to study South African Diploma in asthma care focusing in children until 2005.
Being awarded the best rural nurse means a lot to me. Firstly, it means that I’ve been recognised for having excelled in doing the mandate of the healthcare services. It also means that I’ve managed to bring change into people’s lives which remain my main priority; and that I’ve met the the need of the people that is access to health care as required by the South African constitution.
The main highlight of working in rural areas for me was reaching out to the most deprived people, giving them the adequate quality health care they deserve. Reaching out to communities that needed healthcare services but had no means, such as pregnant teenagers and elderly people was one of my long-list highlights.
I had to make means for these teenagers to be included in the list of patients who had to be visited. My main objective was to ensure that necessary services are provided to these young women such as injections which would help protect them from numerous diseases including sexual transmitted illnesses, thus saving them and the unborn babies.
The lowlights range from lack of basic needs such as water and uneven road conditions that usually resulted to numerous community protests, and hindering us to drive to communities that needed our assistance.
Being a healthcare professional worker in a rural space made me realised that as healthcare workers we need to come out of our comfort zone and reach out to the places where our services are needed most, in that way we better the situation of the marginalised.
Having had a positive impact on the patients when trying to help them has been very inspiring for me to keep on doing my best to ensure access to better healthcare services for the communities.