Celebrating 85 years of family

2016-07-26 06:00
Valerie Prinsloo, a nurse at Lentegeur Hospital, accepts a birthday gift on behalf of Suzie Louw from Martha Wessels, on behalf of the Patient Administration team.

Valerie Prinsloo, a nurse at Lentegeur Hospital, accepts a birthday gift on behalf of Suzie Louw from Martha Wessels, on behalf of the Patient Administration team.

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As part of their international Mandela Day initiatives, the patient administration team of Lentegeur Hospital hosted a birthday party for Suzie Louw, the oldest female patient at the facility, who celebrated her 85th birthday on Thursday 14 July.

Martha Wessels, senior patient administration clerk of Lentegeur Hospital, says Louw has been a psychiatric inpatient for more than 50 years.

“Suzie started her psychiatric journey at Valkenberg Hospital in 1965 and was then transferred to Lentegeur Hospital in 1987,” says Wessels.

“Suzie has been part of the intellectual disability family at the facility since then.”

Born on a farm in Oudtshoorn, Louw was found wondering around after her parents had passed, and because she had no siblings or family to take care of her, she was admitted for long-term admission at a psychiatric hospital.

Wessels says although Louw is intellectually disabled, mute and blind, she enjoys listening to music and socialising with other patients in the ward.

Wessels says they took into account that not many individuals are blessed to reach the age of 85, and it should be celebrated.

“We as a department felt that such a milestone party should not go by unnoticed. In light of this and in the lead up to Mandela Day, we decided to host a party for Suzie to celebrate her life,” she says.

“Former President Mandela was always a champion for the underprivileged and the marginalised. Even though times have changed, many individuals who have a mental illness are often discriminated against, marginalised and abandoned by their family members or caregivers because of the stigma surrounding mental conditions.”

Wessels highlights the fact that this rejection adversely impacts a mental health client’s self- respect, self-worth and dignity of life.

“This event is but a small token to show that regardless of illness, all individuals deserve to be celebrated and appreciated,” concludes Wessels.

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