By Mbeki Andrew
No amount of money in the world will change Makgathatso Lydia Maseko’s mind about what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
“This is a calling and it gives me joy. I love children and I respect pregnant women so hence I’m a midwife – it’s a special job for me. What makes me happy is seeing a mom leaving the hospital with a bouncing, healthy baby,” she said.
The 38 year-old nurse is one of the two joint winners in the Best Professional Nurse category at the Khanyisa Service Excellence Awards. The awards were hosted by the Gauteng Department of Health at Gallagher Estates in Midrand recently.
“I take my job very seriously,” said a jubilant Maseko shortly after collecting her award at the glittering ceremony.
The awards, which were first introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2016, returned to honour health professionals who have gone beyond the call of duty.
Maseko has been working as a midwife in the labour ward since 2007 at the Sebokeng Hospital.
While she is aware that the public often have negative sentiments to health workers particularly nurses at public healthcare facilities, Maseko urged the public to take a balanced view on the matter.
“To our public I understand the saying that one rotten potato spoils the whole bag but I think nurses should be given a chance, especially in the labour ward people consider it as being the most horrific place to be in but it’s not true. I’d like to plea with the community to please work with and bear with us. We are trying our best to deliver the best quality care,” she said.
Often nurses work in stressful environments but Maseko has found a way to cope and views her work as a duty she has to render to the public.
“I have a sense of duty so I should fulfil that which God has sent to me to do,” she says, while advising those who are considering joining the profession to do so driven by passion and not money.
She said the profession comes with many areas for one to specialise in. “They shouldn’t just come because of money, it should not be a factor. Commitment should be their number one priority,” she said.
Speaking to Sky News Africa, Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said the awards honour centres of excellence and dedicated health workers who provide quality services to communities.
“Tonight is the night to acknowledge them and encourage them to do even more, we hope that this will encourage each and every one of us the 68000 people that work for department, to emulate them so that excellence is a way of doing business.”
The MEC spoke out against attacks on healthcare workers, saying the safety of patients, healthcare workers and the public at healthcare facilities is critical. There have been incidents of fighting outside public healthcare facilities, and then the patients come inside to finish their fight.
“We’ve also had incidences where health workers prioritise a patient who is sicker and more critical than those that came before and the community attacked the health worker.
“My message to society is that health workers are precious, they are there to serve and we need to afford them the due respect and the due space for them to give us the best skills and services that they can give,” she said.
The awards spanned nine categories ranging from Best District Hospital, Best Social Project and the special Albertina Sisulu Award in honour of the struggle stalwart.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the capital city’s Tshwane District Hospital Dr Naing Soe said the institution is proud of their award. He said the hospital delivers state of the art healthcare to its patients and community.
Dr Soe views his appointment as CEO nine years ago as a blessing and an opportunity for him to make a difference in people’s lives.
“I take it as a blessing. Every day we are striving, all the way from managers to cleaners for quality health service for all our communities. Most of the patients are happy and our staff is motivated. We are really humbled and proud,” he said.
The chief executive urged healthcare professionals to serve patients with dignity and pride and to go the extra mile “to give excellent quality healthcare service to all”.
Presenting the Ma Sisulu Award, Ramokgopa said the department searched for an exceptional healthcare worker who inspires everyone around them – just like the struggle heroine had.
The award went to Tambo Memorial Hospital’s Sister Sibongile Motshwene.
She received the award for her heroic act when a crying baby was left on her own while her parents received medical attention following a car accident.
While working to resuscitate a patient in a different room, Motshwene heard the baby crying. She left the room to soothe and then strap the baby on her back and then went right back to help resuscitate her patient in the emergency ward.
A picture of the Sister with the baby strapped to her back went viral on social media.
“This nurse is a special human being, such a gesture deserves to be acknowledged in honour of Mama Sisulu and many more who are like her,” said the MEC.
Motshwene, who is a trauma nurse and has been in the field for 31 years, said she was honoured by the accolade.
“Excellence doesn’t start with these awards it’s a life journey. I’m humbled still to be mentioned with the likes of Ma Sisulu,” said Motshwene.
Ma Sisulu, who was a qualified nurse and midwife, would have turned 100 on 21 October had she been alive today