Renaming of King Edward VIII Hospital: KZN Health MEC urges nurse to honour Victoria Mxenge legacy by respecting patients; and not to neglect their own health

MEC adds:

  • More nurses to be hired in KZN;
  • Infrastructure development projects on the cards for newly-renamed hospital;
  • Let's document history and celebrate own heroes;

15 May 2024

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane has urged all nurses in the Province to treat their patients with care and respect, and not to neglect their own health and well-being.

She has also called on South Africans to document their own history; celebrate their heroes; and reject all individuals or formations who burn sacred symbols of national significance, such as the national flag.

MEC Simelane has also vowed to continue her crusade to improve the level of healthcare service delivery by employing more nurses in the Province.

She was speaking in Durban yesterday, during a gathering for the celebration of International Nurses' Day and the renaming of King Edward VIII Hospital after Victotia Mxenge, who was a health professional and Liberation Struggle icon.

The occasion was attended by, among others, the Mxenge and Ntebe families (the latter is from her maternal side).

Born in King Williamstown and trained as a midwife at King Edward VIII Hospital, Victoria Mxenge, a qualified lawyer, was gunned down by the Apartheid "Death Squad", in Umlazi, in 1986.

MEC Simelane said: "We firmly believe that, in order to reclaim our identity as a nation, our streets, airports, government buildings, hospitals, and other public amenities and symbols of national pride must reflect our history. They must pay homage to our rich heritage, and other shared values.

"Instead of carrying names that are colonial, hurtful, obscure, or have no significance, they must serve to celebrate and immortalise the people who changed our world for the better.

The MEC said although the renaming of such amenities can never undo the severe damage caused by Apartheid and colonialism, it nevertheless helped to give communities a sense of identity, belonging, and pride.

"But most importantly, when we rename a public amenity after a remarkable individual such as uMam' Victoria Mxenge, it helps to preserve and immortalise her name, for the benefit of current and future generations."

The MEC said the hospital renaming also posed a challenge to the management and staff, to represent her legacy well, and do justice to her name.

"If staff from this hospital mistreats patients and engages in medical negligence, that will not help us at all as it will only serve to drag her good name through the mud. And that is something we cannot accept."

The MEC said she was still committed to securing a minimum staff establishment of 60% at hospitals, a matter that was under discussion before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Because you cannot have one nurse doing the work of three people, and think you will get good results. It just doesn't work. Our nurses are human beings. And if you overwork them, they will burn out. So, we are making a commitment to hire more nurses."

Noting that nurses were often exposed to traumatic situations, she urged them to be mindful of their own health and well-being, and use existing support structures to seek help where necessary.

"We call upon nurses to make use of our Employee Wellness and Occupation Health programmes, which will help them manage any kind of emotional stress and mental health issues that they might encounter."

To support the vision and plan of honouring the memory and legacy of Victoria Mxenge, the Department has conducted condition assessments and developed a multi-year infrastructure development plan, which will be implemented in phases.

Some of this work has already been concluded, such as repairs to the damage caused by the April 2022 floods.

Further to that, the Department is

  • Upgrading the main substation and protection system at a cost of R7,1 million;
  • Carrying out renovations to Maternity Ward 'O3', to the tune of R25 million;
  • Renovating the Nursing College Campus, at a cost of R41,5 million; and
  • Replacing 8 lifts, which will cost R11,3 million.

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 15 May, 2024

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