Breast clinic’s nurse honoured

2017-11-14 06:01
Wilna da Silva

Wilna da Silva

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For more than two decades, a local nurse has passionately served her community, and her labours have not gone unnoticed.

Wilna da Silva from Bishop Lavis has been a registered nurse at the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital for the past three years.

A nurse for the past 24 years, Da Silva has been dedicated to helping patients of the Mitchell’s Plain hospital breast clinic with breast cancer examinations and managing referrals to Groote Schuur Hospital.

“Growing up I was exposed to the nursing profession at a very young age as my aunt worked at Groote Schuur,” says Da Silva.

“I remember all the stories she told me about her day at the hospital. Sometimes funny and sometimes sad stories. I particularly remember one day when she came home overflowing with joy. When I asked her why, she told me one of her patients had been in a coma for three months and had finally opened his eyes and was on his way to recovery,” she says.

It was at this moment that Da Silva decided she wanted to be a nurse.

“[My aunt] said: ‘Wilna, the feeling that I am experiencing at this moment cannot be bought’.”

Da Silva started her nursing career at Conradie Hospital in 1992 and worked at Caledon Provincial Hospital, Riversonderend Overberg Old-age Home, Hermanus Medi-Clinic, Louis Leipoldt Medi-Clinic and N1 City Netcare.

“As a nurse you meet people from all walks of life. I was fortunate to come across a couple of people who greatly inspired me and made me realise why I chose this profession in the first place,” she says.

“One of my breast clinic patients, newly diagnosed with breast cancer, came back to our hospital after completing her treatment, just to give me a hug and say thank you for assisting her throughout her difficult ordeal. The patient is now in remission and it is memories like these that make me extremely proud of my ­profession.”

She says one of her proudest moments has been witnessing her patients getting access to the breast clinic and ensuring that each patient has been educated well on her breast condition to ensure that she does not panic because she is not knowledgeable about her illness.

Da Silva manages 20 to 25 patients every Monday without assistance and goes beyond the call of duty to help her patients by coming in after working hours to ensure that they are aware of their appointments, rearranging appointments to accommodate a patient or to notify them of a cancellation.

While providing this service, she started a soup kitchen to ensure that her patients are given a warm cup of soup while waiting to be helped.

“People in the community find it hard to make ends meet. While I was interacting with my patients, some of them would tell me that the last time they ate was the previous day at breakfast. Many of these patients come to the hospital early in the morning and my main concern was that they would need to take medication on an empty stomach and that would lead to problems.”

She raised her concern at a meeting and the initiative was started.

They hand out soup, sandwiches and something to drink.

Da Silva embodies the values of the department and always puts her patients’ healthcare needs first.

The Cecilia Makiwane Awards took place last week. The awards is named after the first registered professional black nurse in South Africa, is aimed at recognising the tireless work done by nurses and rewarding those nurses who walk the extra mile with their patients and embody their calling.

Da Silva was one of the 10 finalists nominated for the award.

“[When I was first nominated for the awards] I was shocked and then excited. I could not believe that the profession was rewarding me for something that I did because I loved it. I was overwhelmed to know that out of competent nurses I was nominated for such a prestigious award. It was a very humbling experience and a priceless moment,” she says.

She says her job is a calling.

“Young people must realise that nursing is not a profession, it is a calling. You have to be a selfless person who is able to put your patients first.

“Being a nurse can be very rewarding but at the same time you can feel that you are not always appreciated. You must have a passion for people. When you see a patient getting up from his sick bed, knowing that you played a part in his recovery, it will be worth everything you go through.”

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