A nurse from Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast is raising the spirits of patients at the clinic where she works with her jokes, dancing and singing. 57-year-old Sister Thathakahle Gumede has taken care-giving to another level as she even prepares food for her patients.

Sister Thathakahle Gumede affectionately known as MaBhengu makes her patients forget about their illnesses as she entertains them with music and dance while they wait for their consultation.

Gumede has been a nurse for 33 years in different health facilities in the province. She says she chose this profession because she wanted to serve the people.

Gumede and the staff members at Philani Clinic at KwaCele in Scottburgh always start their day by singing and educating the patients. Philani Clinic is in the rural areas on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, where many residents are unemployed.

Gumede also grows vegetables within the clinic premises to assist some patients. She says she wants patients to feel at home away from home and be comfortable enough to discuss their illnesses.

“Worse now that we have diseases that are making us lose our self-esteem. So you will find that the patient at home is not accepted, is being ill-treated because of this disease that she has. So my dancing and singing for them I’m trying to make them laugh at the same time making them feel at home. People are scared of nurses they can’t even say what is wrong. So I’m trying to make the home environment.  They call me MaBhengu. They don’t even call me Sister Gumede. I want a person when she comes here to feel free.”

Gumede composes songs that are informative. As the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, she has composed a song that encourages people to follow precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“By me making this, making them laugh, making them forget just for a minute their problems I’m treating them psychologically and emotionally.  When they come to me they talk to me about their problems that is emotional. …physically the pill that the nurse is having, the job for the pill or for medicine will be very easy. Will be smooth sailing because this patient is now psychologically and emotionally well.”

Sister Gumede also encouraged young nurses to uphold their nurses’ pledge.

“I’m saying to the nurses this person who has come to you, left her home to come to you, make her feel wanted, make her feel loved. All the politics surrounding our work, working conditions, this person doesn’t know about that, this person has only come to you to get help, let those who are in a position to handle your problems, let them handle their problems and you handle your problem which is patient care. And that my child is very satisfying.”

One of Sister Gumede’s patients, Nyenyezile Mzulwini, says Gumede’s attitude makes it easy to communicate with her.

“Mam Gumede treats us with humour. She is kind. She sings and dances for us. We even forget about our sicknesses. I always enjoy coming to the clinic when she is on duty,” says Mzulwini.

Sister Gumede says the tough face that some nurses put on makes it difficult for patients to speak openly about their physical and psychological challenges.