Retired nurses ready to go back to work

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pretoria - As long as we can walk, have hands and hearing aids, we are ready to come in and assist in the healthcare system.

This was the message from retired nurses in Gauteng, committing themselves to go back to health institutions and assist. They assured the provincial Health and Social Development MEC, Ntombi Mekgwe, that they are 'retired but not tired'.

A forum of about 200 provincial retired nurses met with Mekgwe on Tuesday at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where the MEC urged them to go back to the profession and assist.

Launched last year, the forum helps mostly at clinics and hospitals, where they work in primary health care services, hospital wards and intensive care, depending on their area of expertise or where they are needed most.

The nurses also help nursing management in mentoring both wards and nursing students in the spirit of "Kuyasheshwa la" (loosely translated means, we work fast here), and getting to the basics of health, where nurses were the pillars of society, known for their caring nature and dedication towards their profession.

Speaking to the nurses, Mekgwe said their contribution in ensuring that the values of the nursing profession, which include caring for the sick and putting patients' lives first, continue to be upheld is invaluable.

"You are the best trained nurses in the world. The State President in his first State of the Nation address in 2009 committed government to addressing the shortage of nurses by training, recruiting and retaining our nurses as valuable national assets.

"It is imperative that you assist newly graduated nurses to keep abreast of new developments with regard to prevalent and emerging patterns of disease... In other words, training of nurses must always remain relevant to communities that they serve," said Mekgwe.

She said the health system needs competent leadership in nursing and to ensure that new nurses are mentored by experienced professionals. She stressed the importance of mentoring of young nurses, which will ensure that the standards for which South African nurses are renowned are never lost.

"You continue to lead the way in ensuring active participation of citizens and communities in addressing health issues, promoting healthy lifestyles and ensuring that communities access services closer to where they live."

Mekgwe said working with communities in the District Health Services, returned nurses can collectively address environmental decay, disease prevention, poverty and discrimination, and help in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

"It is your duty to ensure that our communities take responsibility for their health through living healthy lifestyles. You have to capacitate our communities to take ownership of their health."
Chairperson for the forum, Ethel Lesolang, noted that the retired nurses have the required skills.

"We are the custodians of the profession and are prepared to take the profession back to the basics. We've tried to find our feet in the health system... As long as we can walk, have hands and hearing aids, we are ready to assist," she said.