Veteran Nyanga nurse retires

Ndilekazi Tshaka retires after three decades working as a professional nurse.

A Nyanga community health clinic nurse is finally hanging up her cap after serving the medical profession for 35 years.

Colleagues say the impact made by Ndilekazi Tshaka is so great it is impossible to measure.

On Friday December 15, staff members of the Nyanga clinic converged at Maphindi’s place to bid farewell to one of the longest serving nurses at the clinic. There were mixed emotions from the staff and many wished that she could stay for a few more years and continue to share her wisdom and skills with young nurses.

The 65-year-old, who is now an acting facility manager at the clinic, will be retiring at the end of the month.

Ms Tshaka said she completed her nursing training and became a qualified nurse in 1980.

She quickly points out that she started working for the South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA) Health Project , an NGO, and was based at Crossroads clinic.

Ms Tshaka said she knew when she completed her training that she wanted to join an NGO to share her skills and knowledge. She said she felt that NGOs had a crucial role to play in the health sector but their role was not always understood or valued. She said for years she selflessly dedicated her time working for the NGO and empowering the community.

She said some of the challenges she faced while working for the organisation was that there were no clear policies and regulations to serve as a guideline and assist them in their work.

However, she said she was proud to be among the people who initiated a project to train residents in first aid so they could offer others assistance, especially at night.

Ms Tshaka said the idea to train people came up after they discovered that people did not know how to handle a sick person while waiting for an ambulance.

As a result of the training, there are now people called community health care workers ready to help.

“I wanted to make difference in my community hence I chose the nursing profession. This is my calling. I feel glad and excited every time when I go to work because I know that I will be making a difference in someone’s else life.”

But Ms Tshaka said that in the early 2000s she felt that she had reached a glass ceiling at the NGO sector and wanted to take a different path in her career.

She then decided to join the Nyanga clinic in 2004 on a contract basis until she was hired permanently in 2005.

Ms Tshaka said when she started working at the clinic she was specialising in chronic diseases of lifestyle, such as diabetes.

She said when she joined the clinic she wanted to bring change to the health sector and how things were done. She said one of her goals was to change the attitude of the nurses and improve their relationship with patients.

Ms Tshaka said the past 13 years she had been working at the facility have really showed her that there were a lot that still need to be done to improve the public health care sector.

She said clinics were overcrowded and government needs to built more of them. She said when she decided to become a nurse it was not because of money, but she was passionate about helping people.

Ms Tshaka said one of the challenges facing nurses was that even though the facility does good work, people still complain and there were no appraisals.

She said people have the right to raise their complaints but they also need to highlight the good things done by nurses.

Asked about retirement plans, Ms Tshaka said she wants to go back to work at an NGO on a temporary basis and assist where she can.

Colleague Bessie Maphambane said Ms Tshaka was a helpful nurse who sometimes advised other nurses on personal issues and she was a good listener.

She said she used to encourage other people to empower themselves through education and she was a hard a worker.