GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - It is not always easy to give recognition to those who deserve it. “I don’t really like this sort of thing,” says Arlene Visser, our Rural Hero for this week. However, Arlene has gone above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic.
Arlene is an occupational health nurse at George Hospital. She worked in the emergency centre and day theatres before taking on a full-time role as occupational health nurse in 2014.
Arlene’s duties include the daily occupational health staff engagement such as disease prevention programmes, documenting all employee injuries and illnesses within the workplace, as well as observing and assessing the work environment for potential dangers and hazards.
“I also render emotional support to staff and they know that my door is always open for a chat. I usually talk to staff before referring them for counselling with our staff wellness provider. With the pandemic and an increase in anxiety among staff there has been an increased number of staff knocking on my door,” she explains.
Staff who contract COVID-19 are also documented by her office and according to Arlene, there are a lot of emotions when a close colleague becomes sick with COVID-19. She is on standby to give staff results of their COVID-19 tests throughout the week.
“Some of our staff need in-hospital treatment, and that increases anxiety among colleagues,” she says.
Arlene is also responsible for follow-up visits by survivors of rape and sexual assault who are seen at the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC) at the hospital. The TCC provides specialised victim support services that are intended to reduce the secondary trauma of assault. They are aimed at reducing secondary trauma for the victim, improving conviction rates of perpetrators and reducing the time it takes to finalise criminal cases.
Here Arlene has a nursing role which involves all follow-up appointments from clients visiting the centre. She is also the sexual harassment contact officer for George Hospital.
Arlene works closely with the Infection Prevention Control nurse and has been involved with PPE arrangements since the beginning of the pandemic. She says a lot of work has been put into training of staff and the correct use of PPE. Her team also had to conduct the health risk assessments for all staff in the hospital. Even though her workload is much more than usual she still stays positive and knows that this too shall pass.
Arlene praises management for showing support during this difficult time.
Her manager, Nelson Lebogo, had only praise for Arlene’s work and contribution. “I started working with Arlene Visser in April 2020. I have never seen such a dedicated and resilient nurse. She always comes in to work early morning and leaves late. She is caring and considerate to all. She gives her time to all staff members regardless of their rank. As her manager, I receive the same care and treatment from her with a smile. I have been working closely with her since the pandemic; I have never heard her complain. She’s put in place all the systems and processes for the safety of our staff. She’s indeed our local hero and I’m proud of her,” he says.
Lessons learned from the pandemic include loving each other and to be there for each other. “Everyone is stressed so be mindful of this when talking to someone. Also, remember, you are just one person and can only do so much,” says Arlene.
She encourages staff to keep a positive attitude and look forward to assisting them should they have any concerns.
'We bring you the latest Garden Route news'