Jamie Naidoo – Working in state is the perfect fit
Jamie Naidoo, a haematology nurse at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH), tells us why working in the state sector is the perfect fit for her.
Jamie (Deloshini) Naidoo (44) lives in Chatsworth, Kwa-Zulu Natal with her husband and two sons (10 and 16).
Jamie has been a professional nurse (oncology trained) for 16 years. She currently works in the Haematology Ward and the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at IALCH. Her responsibilities involve administering chemotherapy and blood products; managing side effects and complications of patients during and post chemotherapy; monitoring patients pre/during and post bone marrow transplants and managing complications; as well as providing support to patients and their families.
Even though nursing wasn’t Jamie’s first career choice, she believes God called her to be a nurse. “My older son has two medical conditions, ADHD and temporal lobe epilepsy, and my husband had a massive heart attack six years ago and had heart bypass surgery. He also has hypertension and diabetes. So, my nursing duties extend to my loved ones and I wouldn’t be able to effectively keep them healthy and manage their illnesses had I not been a nurse. I’m so thankful to be able to use my knowledge to be able to help others.”
Due to not submitting her application to study nursing in time after matriculating, Jamie studied at Springfield College of Education and qualified with a Further Diploma in Education, specialising in Maths and Science.
From 2002 to 2006, Jamie studied and qualified as a professional nurse. She did the four-year, integrated nursing course at the R.K. Khan Hospital campus and was awarded the overall trophy for the highest mark attained for all the subjects combined.
The mother of two started her career at IALCH in the Medical Emergency Unit. In November 2006, she was moved to the Haematology Ward, where she currently works. In 2010, Jamie received a Diploma in oncological and surgical nursing from UKZN.
“The Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at IALCH was commissioned in 2007 and it’s the only state facility in Kwa-Zulu Natal. To date we have done 87 transplants. I love haematology nursing, especially in the state sector. It has been the perfect fit for me, and I have no further reason to move. Patients go through a lot of hardships. Most are from impoverished backgrounds and are unemployed. Families are far and can’t afford to visit so love, care and support from a nurse makes a massive difference.”
“I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a speaker at two haematology conferences and I’m currently assisting The Igazi Foundation with an online course for nurses. All these opportunities are rare in the public sector so I’m thrilled to have gotten them.”
Empathetic by nature
Jamie believes nursing involves a very caring and empathetic approach. “I’m extremely empathetic by nature and I do my best to assist patients. Understanding their cancer means giving them simple information, not overloading them, and giving hope.”
“When I see a patient is anxious, I remain with them, often holding their hands and sharing comforting words to help them co-operate. It’s really important to explain a procedure beforehand and also encourage patients to ask questions. Many patients have misconceptions and that can contribute to anxiety.”
She goes on to say, “A good nurse is not only skilful and knowledgeable, but is empathetic and compassionate.
It also means listening to what a patient is saying and sometimes not saying (reading non-verbal clues). Patients often confide in a nurse that they trust and someone who shows empathy and support during their hospital stay.”
“Our patients face a lot of hardships, be it psychologically, financially and emotionally. Thus, it’s extremely important to show that you care, you’re there for them and will do your best. Sometimes the nurse may be the only one that the patient feels that cares. Unfortunately with a cancer diagnosis families spilt, jobs are lost and visitors are scarce.”
Dealing with death
When asked about how she handles deaths of patients, the 44-year says, “It’s really distressing. In my early days of nursing, I fell apart but I’ve learnt over the years to try to keep an emotionally safe distance. It’s extremely difficult and I’m not always able to do it because I share really close bonds with many patients that I nurse. I’m in touch with patients after they leave my department, and many will phone for assistance in some way or another of which I gladly do my best to help them.”
Jamie says her best memory is of an acute myeloid leukaemia patient who gave birth to a boy in September 2021. “It really was a miracle and I was ecstatic. She is our first patient who had chemotherapy, got pregnant and delivered a healthy baby boy.”
“I would absolutely love to be a full-time counsellor for haematology patients. Though, that’s more like a dream rather than a goal, since such a position doesn’t exist. At IALCH, there is a shortage of psychologists, and if a patient is fortunate to see one, they have an extremely short time with them. Providing support makes an immense difference to patients diagnosed with blood cancer.”