‘€œI first started working at Bara as a nurse on training from January 1968,’€ says Kgesa.

‘€œI completed my General Nursing in September 1971. I did midwifery in the same hospital and started working as a professional nurse in 1971. I’€™ve been here from that time until now.’€

Along the way, she has completed diplomas in orthopaedics and critical nursing care and a B.Care degree at the Rand Afrikaans University in 1998.

‘€œIt’€™s the love of the work that I’€™m doing. I love to help the sick, basically that’€™s the main thing that keeps me,’€ says Kgesa.

‘€œTo me it was a calling more than anything else. That’€™s why I’€™ve kept myself in this very big hospital, a very challenging hospital, looking after very sick patients is a different calling.

‘€œYes, money is not there, I must say. Our profession is not paying if you look at the work that we are doing. But if you love what you are doing, I’€™m sure that’€™s why I’€™m still here.’€

She says conditions have improved from the days when she used to nurse ‘€œabout 90 patients and some of them had to sleep on the floor’€.

‘€œNow everybody is sleeping on a bed. Never mind we have got those things that make us not to fulfil what we want to do, especially the staff shortages in the wards, simply because the community itself and the society has increased.

‘€œThere is an influx of people that are from outside the cities. In that way, definitely whatever Bara is not able to cater for we try our level best to help people’€¦ We are trying to help the sick in whatever way we can.’€

Night times are when staff shortages are most acute, with only two registered nurses, an enrolled nurse and a nursing auxiliary to look after 28 to 32 patients in a single ward

Despite her long service, 57-year-old Kgesa takes home about R5 060 per month but has four children.

‘€œ It’€™s very, very little because I’€™m a mother. Most of my children are at tertiary level. But I survive. I don’€™t know how. You tend to compromise on a lot of things in your life in order to educate your children and to live, hoping that you are helping them for the future.’€

Kgesa’€™s normal working day starts at 6.45am and sometimes lasts until 7pm.

‘€œMy wish is to have more registered and auxiliary nurses so that we can be able to cope with the demands of the day and also of the night. The registered nurse does almost everything. As a nurse you work as a social worker, a counsellor a priest at times because you sometimes have to meet that spiritual needs of patient.

‘€œEverybody reports to you. I’€™ve got a doctor, my senior management above me, my patients, my other colleagues, a student to teach. All this is round up around this figure, this nurse.’€

E-mail Khopotso Bodibe

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