Caring nurse calls it a day

2018-10-23 06:02
Phillips with granddaughter Kay-Lee Phillips, daughter Lynne Phillips and her mother Bertha Fortune.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

Phillips with granddaughter Kay-Lee Phillips, daughter Lynne Phillips and her mother Bertha Fortune.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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“I am retiring from Groote Schuur Hospital but I am not retiring from rheumatology­.”

So said an emotional Margie Phillips at her farewell event at the hospital on Thursday 18 October. She is a rheumatology nurse and will be retiring after more than 30 years at the hospital­. Left with only a few days at the facility, Phillips urged her colleagues to maintain professionalism and respect at all times to ensure patients get the best possible service­. Described by her colleagues as a no-nonsense professional “who calls a spade a spade”, she reportedly transcended her rheumatology nursing duties and became somewhat of a counsellor for arthritis patients. At a recent event to mark World Arthritis Awareness Day, Phillips spoke about the importance of affording patients time to communicate with them. This involves listening to their challenges, giving them advice and calling them out if they miss doctors’ appointments or default on medication.

At Phillips’s farewell party, Brenda Mokhine, a rheumatology arthritis patient, called her “a friend when you need a friend”. She said Phillips is very patient and easy to talk to “but she will put you in your place for not taking your medication”. “We love you, you were like a mother to us. We still need you,” said Mokhine.

Professor Asgar Kalla said Phillips’s departure would be a great loss to the hospital. Speaking on behalf of management and staff, Gloria Jeftha also thanked Phillips’s family members in attendance, including her 90-year-old mother, Bertha Fortune.

Jeftha said Phillips was devoted to patients and the hospital community, including students. She praised Phillips for extending her services to the outside community, including being active within the Arthritis Foundation of South Africa.

“We appreciate you. For me as a person you have been there, you have been supportive,” said Jeftha.

Rheumatology doctor, Urisha Brijlal, also praised Phillips for her dedication.

Colleague Neil Meiring said that among the things he had learned from Phillips was telephone etiquette and dressing appropriately at work.

Arthritis Foundation of South Africa chief executive, Ann Olivier, said: “Every once in a while, you meet a person with such dedication, commitment and compassion – Sister Margie Phillips is one. We appreciate all she has done for rheumatology at Groote Schuur. With a grateful heart we won’t say goodbye but rather…until we meet again.”

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