'Nursing is not a profession, it's my calling' - nurses honoured on International Nursing Day

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Sister Dorele Klein from Tygerberg hospital.
Sister Dorele Klein from Tygerberg hospital.
  • In celebration of the 56th anniversary of International Nurses Day, News24 spoke to nurses who have vowed to put others' needs before their own.
  • The two nurses we spoke to tested posited positive for Covid-19 last year.
  • The City vaccinated about 76% of health staff to date.

"Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, I didn't see myself doing anything else besides being a nurse," said a nursing sister, as she beamed with pride and looked back at the most challenging year of her career.

In celebration of the 56th anniversary of International Nurses Day, News24 spoke to nurses who have vowed to put the needs of others before their own, especially during a pandemic.

Sister Dorele Klein, who works at Tygerberg Hospital and has been a nurse for 26 years, had dreams of becoming a prison warden. But her calling to nursing trumped that dream.

When she started her first nursing job, Klein said she knew she was meant to be there.

"I decided early in my career that this is not a profession," she said.

"Nursing is not a profession, it is my calling."

Meanwhile, 45-year-old nursing assistant Martha Isaacs, from Elsies River, was impressed by nurses when she lost her eight-year-old daughter.

Assistant nurse Martha Isaacs
Assistant nurse Martha Isaacs

"My daughter was brain damaged when she was born," she said.

"Doctors had told me that she would only live up to the age of two, but she died when she was eight. The nurses who used to treat my daughter were the reason I decided to pursue the career," Isaacs added.

Covid-19 storm

Both Isaacs and Klein tested positive for Covid-19 last year.

"Things started to become difficult in hospital last April, and quite a large number of people were testing positive for Covid-19," said Isaacs.

She added:

In June, I tested positive, and my family had a really tough time adjusting because I was isolating at home, and our family house was not big enough for them to maintain a safe distance.

She said she would sleep while wearing her face mask and rely on her son to be a parent to her younger children.

Klein said she contracted Covid-19 during the second wave, soon after her elderly mother started displaying flu-like symptoms.

"It was the most difficult time of my life because I couldn't even take care of my mother."

Even though the nurses have to bear the brunt of the pandemic, they said they still didn't see themselves doing anything else but helping others.

Saluting nurses

City of Cape Town councillor Zahid Badroodien saluted nurses' bravery.

"Nurses are the largest part of our healthcare professionals and have been at the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

Badroodien added:

They continue to provide life-saving services to our most vulnerable communities and show continued commitment, despite their fears and anxieties.

"As we pause to mark International Nurses Day on 12 May, I want to extend the City's gratitude to our nursing staff and encourage them to stay the course, difficult as it is."

The City has made progress with the vaccination of approximately 76% of the health staff to date.

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