Selfless nurse who brings care to her community scoops national award

DENOSA congratulates the nurse from Free State who won the most caring nurse award in Pretoria last night.
DENOSA congratulates the nurse from Free State who won the most caring nurse award in Pretoria last night.

Despite working in a sector characterised by a shortage of resources and staff and a general lack of support‚ a nurse from Bloemfontein in the Free State has made it her life mission to bring health care to her community.

Angela Vermeulen runs the Itekeng Support Group 24/7care centre‚ which she founded two years ago to bring care to the doors of her patients.

“I am happy and very proud of myself and the work I do; I am also speaking on behalf of all nurses. I know that if we had enough resources we would do more for our patients‚” said Vermeulen.

Vermeulen goes around collecting medication from local pharmacies‚ “some of which sponsor me. I get support from different people. I also use my own money to buy medication for my patients on a monthly basis.

“I have a few patients staying in my centre while I do home checkups on the rest. I do this to make sure that they are taking their medication as indicated and also are taken care of. If they don’t have enough medication‚ I ensure that they receive it so that they do not relapse‚” she said.

Though her journey as a nurse started in 1994‚ Vermeulen only became a qualified nurse in 1999.

“I worked at public hospitals until my resignation in 2015. I left because I felt overwhelmed with the overcrowding of patients in hospitals that resulted in early discharges. There were many challenges. So I decided to take the hospital to the community‚” she said.

Presently she is responsible for about 20 patients.

“Sometimes it gets exhausting because you get emotionally attached to your patients‚ which can be good at times because then you will do your best to ensure their wellbeing. I won’t give up. Like how I used to tell my fellow nurses that I will never let go of being a nurse. Because there is nothing more fulfilling than putting a smile on someone’s face and changing their lives‚” the passionate nurse said.

Vermeulen said that she mostly deals with patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and TB‚ as well as minor ailments.

In honour of her noble contribution‚ outstanding selflessness and dedication‚ Vermeulen was awarded the 2017 Marilyn Lahana award for the most caring nurse by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in Pretoria on Monday.

As the winner‚ she received prize money of R10‚000‚ a laptop‚ a certificate and a token.

The awards are named after Lahana‚ a nurse who contracted Ebola when she cared for a patient who had been transferred to a Johannesburg hospital from Gabon. The patient‚ a doctor from Gabon‚ had contracted the virus from the patient he himself was caring for. 

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