Celebrated Cape Town nurse, who never took sick leave, retires after 35 years

2019-06-06 06:53
Colleen Grehan (Heroes of Groote Schuur)

Colleen Grehan (Heroes of Groote Schuur)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A nurse, who helped care for thousands of people's wounds at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, has retired after 35 years - and she has never taken a day's sick leave.

Sister Colleen Grehan's dedicated service was highlighted on the Heroes of Groote Schuur Facebook page, a project of the hospital facility board.

Some of her patients fondly remembered her care and thanked her, while former colleagues appreciated her knowledge and patience.

Grehan, 66, who retired on Friday, told the project that nursing had always been in her blood and she paraded around with a towelling nappy on her head as a toddler, pretending to be a nurse.

With a little uniform that her mother made, and a bed made out of tomato boxes, she ran her own little hospital and put bandages on her cat and dolls.

One of the cases that stood out for her was a farmworker who had been mauled by dogs in Philippi.

"They knocked her down and started chewing on her and every time she moved in the night they carried on and by the morning she had no flesh on her leg from the knee to the foot, they'd eaten it all off the bone with her awake," she recalled.

"Eight people were attacked by those dogs. I was still busy with her when number seven came in. Number eight was killed. That patient did really well. She went home to the farm without a prosthesis."

Sixteen years later, she treated a woman in the maternity ward who had her leg amputated.

"... she had some narrow scars and I asked her if she was diabetic and she said no. So I asked what happened to her leg and she said 'Sister you know..... the dogs' and that's when I realised it was her. Sixteen years later she was here having a baby."

(Heroes of Groote Schuur)

Colleen Grehan as a child (Heroes of Groote Schuur)

Grehan explained that she had refused to take sick leave because there had been no one else to do her job.

"I've had times where I had a problem with my back and I could barely walk but I was here. A couple of times I've had to say to somebody please drive me to work because I can't drive, but I was here." she said.

"If I could just keep going I would keep going. Monthly I treat between 250-270 patients. Last year I did 3097 patients in one year."

Grehan said she retired for 10 hours last year but there was nobody to replace her so she returned. Now she was forced to retire.

People wished her well for her retirement.

"Sister Colleen was always willing to help my mom when we went for her chemo and dressings. Always there with a friendly smile and always giving advice. God bless you always," said one woman.

Another commented: "Thank you for saving my husband life ...14yrs ago... with your healing hands may your retirement bring u lots of beautiful blessing and good rest... lots of love to you."

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    cape town  |  health
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.