For decades, most stories from Cape Town’s District Six started with – “I was born at Peninsula Maternity Hospital!” The Peninsula Maternity Hospital was established in 1921 as a training hospital specialising in midwifery. It closed down in 1992. On the day of its closure, a group of nurses climbed up to the hospital’s roof to take a last look at Table Mountain and the surrounds where they served so many. Among them was sister Patience Watlington, or Sr Wattie, as many referred to her. Biénne Huisman sat down with the 80-year-old nursing veteran as she reflected on life as a midwife in District Six.
Nurse shortages and issues with the training of nurses have been making headlines in recent weeks, with some referring to a ‘nursing crisis’ in South Africa. After attending a recent conference hosted by the South African Nursing Council, Thabo Molelekwa dug deeper in search of clarity on where the bottlenecks are and what can be done about them.
Being a midwife is not a career for her, says Sebabatso Tsosane – it’s a calling. Refilwe Mochoari spoke to Tsosane – a midwife, lecturer, and founder of the Free State-based organisation Black Women Arise – about her passion to empower women with knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
Dr Daphney Conco is passionate about sexual and reproductive health rights – access to abortion in particular – and that is why she is now at the forefront of research on access to abortion services in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to her about her work, her passion for research, and how as a little girl in rural KwaZulu-Natal she dreamed of wearing a graduation gown.
Hospitals in South Africa have been put under immense strain over the past two years as beds were filled with COVID-19 patients and elective surgeries had to be put on hold. To make things worse, pre-existing shortages of intensive care trained nurses and other critical staff were exacerbated by healthcare workers themselves contracting SARS-CoV-2 and falling ill or having to isolate themselves. Tiyese Jeranji explores how Gauteng and the Western Cape are catching up on elective surgeries and asks what is being done about the underlying problem of staff shortages.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic many medical interns in South Africa had a tough time, often working long hours and with little oversight or support. Chris Bateman spoke to interns and junior doctors in public hospitals and tag-on COVID-19 facilities, who are performing tasks of porters, auxiliary nurses, and liaising with anxious relatives, instead of getting the required hands-on, supervised learning.
A recent study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that employing more nurses can result in cost savings double the cost of employing the additional nurses. The study was conducted in Australia but may well have important implications for nursing in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
On 17 February Sr Milanie Bennett administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Bienne Huisman tracked her down to learn more about her long journey to this historical moment.
Many healthcare workers are rightly identified as heroes of South Africa’s COVID-19 response. Yet, often healthcare workers are given very little support in the public healthcare system, something that may get worse as healthcare worker shortages get more acute in the coming years. Kathryn Cleary investigates.
Testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 can be frightening and traumatic. Nurse Angy Rabothatha is among the many nurses who are part of government’s trace and support teams who help people with COVID-19 on their journey. She shared her story with Biénne Huisman.