‘Patient is my first priority’

Nurse Gregory Paulse assesses Yonela Sombexe who is a patient at the Mfuleni clinic.

Gregory Paulse, who has been a nurse at Mfuleni clinic for more than a decade, says he still cannot believe that he was among the nominees for the provincial leg of the prestigious Cecilia Makiwane Nurses recognition awards.

The ceremony was held at Lagoon Beach Hotel, in Milnerton, on Friday October 21.

Even though he did not win, Mr Paulse said the nomination was the first in his life and he was grateful to the people who nominated him.

The awards, named after the first registered black professional nurse in South Africa, recognises excellence in the nursing profession across the country.

Mr Paulse faced stiff competition from more than 100 nurses across the province. The award went to Vyjayanthimala van Heerden, a clinical nurse educator at New Somerset Hospital.

With more than 30 years experience in the nursing profession, Mr Paulse said he entered the nursing profession in 1982 with no formal training or education but he was determined to become a nurse.

He started at Tygerberg Hospital as an auxiliary nurse and in 2004, he was promoted to a staff nurse. In 2006, he received training and became a registered nurse.

Before he entered the nursing fraternity, he worked for a printing company for a year but decided to quit his job and pursue nursing.

Reminiscing about his early days, Mr Paulse said the first weeks were terrifying and at some stage he wanted to give up.

But the 52-year-old said the act of caring for people and the nursing profession are indispensable to one another, and often the two are thought of synonymously.

Mr Paulse stressed that providing such services was not an easy task. He added that he believed nursing was a calling, not just a job. “The patient is my first priority and I am driven to ensure they receive the best quality care. As the nurses, our key mission is to care for the patients,” he said.

“To care means to give of yourself unselfishly. I find a great joy and reassurance in knowing that I have done my best to help my patient and their family.” He said caring and kindness formed a fundamental part of being a nurse. He said he visited patients and their families in their homes to offer advice and nursing assistance when on holidays.

He said he started an initiative where he collected and distributed food items to the needy. He also initiated activities aimed at improving staff morale and patient experience.

He emphasised that the spirit of Ubuntu has no boundaries.

Talking about some of his career highlights, Mr Paulse said seeing a patient smile made him feel proud. However, he said it has not always been a smooth journey as he has often been described as a “moffie’ because he was a male nurse. “I worked at Tygeberg Hospital for 15 years. I also worked in a private hospital for a short stint before I came to Mfuleni clinic in 2000. When I started working at the clinic I was sceptical, but the people of Mfuleni welcomed me with their warm hearts.

I believe that there is still more that I can do to uplift this community,” he said.

Facility manager Hendrina Wilschut hailed Mr Paulse for his dedication and training her.

She described Mr Paulse as an angel who spends his working day caring for the patients.

She said they opted to nominate Mr Paulse because of his compassion, professionalism and dedication to his craft.

“We are pleased to have him as our colleague and he has instilled the culture of humanity among us and he has proven that we need to go beyond the call off duty when caring for our patients,” she said.

As Vukani wrapped up the interview with Mr Paulse, he said: “When I retire I hope to open a centre that would advise people about health matters.”