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Meet our CTICU Manager, Sister Welhemina Molala

Sister Welhemina Mahlako Molala’s passion was born from the hope and heartache that lies burrowed behind the Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute’s Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (Maboneng CTICU) doors at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. Cardiac rhythms fill her ears with song on a daily basis, reminding her of the profound beauty that lies in the complexity of caring for a wounded child. In April this year, Welhemina was appointed as the new unit manager of Maboneng’s CTICU. An earnest accomplishment of a tale dating back to 2003, when Sister Welhemina embarked on her career in paediatrics intensive care as a shift leader after completing her Cardiothoracic intensive care course at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. The only place in South Africa to complete the course. The Maboneng’s CTICU is incredibly high-paced, with an average occupancy of 95% - most of which are children recovering from complex procedures. Welhemina speaks of the 1:1 ratio of nurse to patient, all certified in varying skills. As the only ICU in Gauteng to admit and attend to children with complex and specific heart diseases, Maboneng’s patients demand a high degree of academic preparations and clinical expertise. “[To] optimise the quality of postoperative nursing, we believe in training our own staff with the specialised help and guidance of our cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and intensivists,” shares Welhemina, with immense pride and humility. The rapid growth in paediatric cardiac surgery demands high quality skills, appropriate technology and indispensable human care. Maboneng’s CTICU thrives on the belief that “nurses feel satisfaction when they are meeting the needs of their patients” and the harsh reality that “failure to meet the patient’s needs might result in compassion failure” (Berger et al., 2015; Nolte et al., 2017). Caring for paediatric cardiothoracic patients differs vastly from adult cardiothoracic patients. “Paediatric patients are not merely small adults,” informs Welhemina, “their physiology is different and they thus require special needs”. Additionally, the equipment used for a small infant differs vastly from that of an adult patient. “We believe in nursing our patients holistically,” says Sister Welhemina, “meaning, we care for the parents as well”. The emotional effects caused by the critical condition of one’s child can be incredibly stressful for both nurse and parents. The learning environment nurtured by the Maboneng CTICU mentorship programme - which targets newly qualified nurses, junior staff nurses and agency staff members - supports trainees in learning and understanding the comprehensive and integrated treatment Maboneng’s CTICU strives for. Upon entering the ICU doors each morning, Sister Welhemina reminds herself of the four C’s that ensure her unit is a place of refuge during a child’s complex recovery: Care, Compassion, Competence and Collaboration. It seems only natural to imagine that some angels grace us with their presence on earth. Perhaps they are here with us as Nurses.

Sister Welhemina Molala is currently in her second year of her Masters Degree in Nursing.

© Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute 2017 | Featured Image: Malaika Boon


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