“Integrity in your role as a nurse is important because you are dealing with people’s lives.

This is at the core of 2018 Integrity Icon, Elizabeth Mkhondo’s work as a nurse.

Sister Elizabeth was in conversation with fellow nurse, Sanele Lukhele, for the third installment of Accountability Lab South Africa’sMeet the Icon” series. The webinar took place on Thursday, 19 November, 2020. Listen to the full conversation here

Sister Elizabeth is an experienced registered nurse who works at Stanza Bopape Community Care Centre in Mamelodi, Tshwane. Her specialty is in primary health care and she works with patients who have been diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Sanele is a nurse and midwifery lecturer at the University of Johannesburg. In 2018, she was celebrated by the Mail & Guardian as one of their Top 200 Young South Africans, and in 2019 she was awarded the Gauteng Premier’s Excellence Award for her contribution to the nursing profession. 

The two nurses enjoyed an enlightening inter-generational conversation about the nursing profession. Their passion and dedication shone through the discussion. 

Kicking off the webinar, Sanele introduced Sister Elizabeth, noting that, “her colleagues commented that she has a great love for patients. She goes as far as using her own resources to go to patients’ homes in order to ensure that patients don’t default on their treatment.” For Sanele, this brought to mind  Florence Nightingale and Albertina Sisulu, who were both nurses of integrity who provided services to patients in their homes. 

Asked why she took the trouble to visit people at home, Sister Elizabeth said: “Most of our patients are unemployed. We require them to come to the clinic, every week or every two weeks which becomes a burden on them. So the easiest way to make sure a patient complies with your treatment is to go to their home.” 

These visits enable Sister Elizabeth to observe the patients’ home, to see if they have adequate support and to build a rapport with the patient. Through this, patients begin to regard her as part of their family.

As Sister Elizabeth noted: “Your attitude determines the outcome of your patient’s care within the public service.” For her, a lack of resources should not stand in the way of doing one’s best for one’s patients.

Others from the profession joined the call, and Sanele called for the video to be played to nursing students across the country, to benefit from Sister Elizabeth’s advice and wisdom gained over her long years of service. As Sanele pointed out, empathy, hard-work and integrity should be the cornerstone of any public servant’s work. 

The conversation was part of a series of events created in partnership with The Danish Embassy of South Africa.

Listen to the full conversation below.