St Anne’s nurse wins Dr Bhamjee Memorial Award

2009-07-21 00:00

A NURSE in the medical unit at Netcare St Anne’s hospital has won the second annual Dr Sabera Bhamjee Memorial Award in association with Netcare St Anne’s.

At an emotional ceremony on Friday, uMgungundlovu District Mayor, Yusuf Bhamjee, presented the award to Jenny Torlage, who knew and worked with Sabera Bhamjee, Yusuf’s late wife. Sabera, a gynaecologist, was murdered in her consulting rooms at St Anne’s in June 2006 and the case has not been solved.

The annual memorial award is designed to motivate health professionals at the hospital. It is given to a nurse who follows in the footsteps of Dr Bhamjee in “exercising excellence, patience, compassion and dignity”.

Torlage has nursed at the hospital for 19 years and reminded the audie nce of about 100 people that it was an almost exclusively white institution when she started there.

“Dr Bhamjee was one of the few people of another race group who worked there then and she taught all of us so much about multi-cultural nursing. She was a brilliant role model with her kind and gentle manner and her wonderful sense of humour. She was a pioneer of multiracial medical care.”

Helen Pryde, unit manager of the medical unit, nominated Torlage and said she “fulfils all the criteria for the award and always goes the extra mile for patients and staff alike. All the staff love her and are very proud that she has won this award, which she really deserves.”

Torlage’s award includes a monetary prize and she qualified as a participant in the national Netcare Ca­rer of the Year Award, for which the prize is a car.

She said she ios “quite overawed” to have won the award as “Sabera really was a wonderful person. It is such an honour for me to be associated with her.”

At the time of her death, Bhamjee was reportedly the only woman gynaecologist in Pietermaritzburg. Several speakers at the gathering paid tribute to her and recalled her “outstanding qualities”. They remembered her calm presence, elegance, quiet dignity and the fact that she “never raised her voice”.

Therése Ford, unit manager of the maternity unit where Dr Bhamjee consulted, said that patients and staff “admired, respected, trusted and listened to her. The patients were her first priority. She engaged with nurses and patients to create a team to provide the best care possible. All who knew her and worked with her will always miss her — she was a very, very special person,”

THE late Dr Sabera Bhamjee was born in Roodeport and moved to Vereeniging when she was seven. After matric she pursued medical studies in Dublin because of the strict entry regulations for blacks at local universities under apartheid.

She studied at the Royal College of Surgeons. She met her husband, Yusuf, on a bus in the Irish Republic capital in 1969. They married in 1976.

Dr Bhamjee worked as a doctor in Northern Ireland for seven years and specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics The couple moved to South Africa in 1983.

She joined the staff at Edendale Hospital before transferring to King Edward in Durban.

She returned to Edendale to head the gynae and obstetrics unit before opening her own practice in 1990 in what is now St Anne’s Medical Centre.

— Witness Reporter.

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