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Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award

As part of our vision to support nurses we believe it is important to recognize and thank those who are working with excellence, passion and care against all odds. In 2008 we launched the annual national Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award kindly sponsored by Carefusion.

This was followed in 2010 by the launch of the International Neonatal Nurses Excellence Award at the 7th International Neonatal Nurses Conference in Durban cohosted by NNASA. The Council of International Neonatal Nurses(COINN) and Saving Newborn Lives sponsor these awards.

We hope the stories of our South African Neonatal Nurse Excellence Champions listed below will motivate you, and change your attitude towards what you can do with your ability!
Please acknowledge outstanding neonatal nurses in your area by nominating them for this prestigious award. They may win an all expenses paid trip to the next national NNASA conference.

To nominate a member for the Neonatal Nursing Excellence Award, please download the form below and and send the completed form to info@nnasa.org.za.
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Winners

2009 – Vanessa Booysen

Training Facilitator
Universitus Hospital, Bloemfontein, Free State

Vanessa started the very first breast milk bank in the Free State, at Universitus Hospital in April 2008. Since then they have fed 100 babies with 90 litres of donor breast milk. They have had no in house cases of NEC and the overall survival of their babies has improved tremendously.

Every 3 months they have a pumpathon as part of raising a public awareness concerning donor breastmilk, but also to emphasize the overall importance of breastfeeding.
To her joy the feeding culture in Universitus has changed, from exclusive formula milk to breastmilk. Either mothers own milk or donor milk.

Vanessa is the BFHI facilitator for Motheo district, and annually trains about 300 midwives through this excellent lactation management course.
She has approached 2 local radio stations, and has frequent slots on the radio to make the public aware of breastfeeding and donor breastmilk banking.

Vanessa implemented a project to upgrade the kangaroo mother lodger unit at Pelonomi hospital, getting TVs, fridges, washing machines, curtains etc donated to improve the living environments of the mothers of premature babies, who must lodge in hospital with their babies for up to 3 months.

She supports her husband’s ministry as a pastor of a local church and has her own ministry amongst teenage girls having crises concerning ….drugs, alcohol, sex ,satanism etc. She has opened her heart and home to recovering drug or alcohol addicts, and loves and nurtures them through the process of withdrawal.
She has also invited a foster son into her home who has been with them for 6 years.

In her words: “Premature babies are my passion. I will continue to strive towards teaching excellence in nursing these very fragile and vulnerable little ones…and making very sure that they are only fed breastmilk“.
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2011 – Aline Hall

Unit Manager, NICU
Sandton Mediclinic, Gauteng
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2012 – Nelisile Khanyile

Unit Manager, Neonatal Ward
Shongwe District Hospital, Mpumalanga

Nelisiwe uses her passion and skills in saving the lives of neonates in the unit. Despite a shortage of doctors and lack of equipment such as CPAP the life of 750 and 800g babies have been saved through Nelisiwes’s implementation of kangaroo mothercare (KMC). She also advocated effectively for the KMC unit when it was threatened with closure and it is still operating today.
She shows compassion and empathy for staff, babies and their families.

She even went to the lengths of tracking down the biological father of an unwanted illegitimate baby who happily took the baby home.

She promotes and participates in building a positive work environment that encompasses staff growth, learning and development. She ensures all her staff have opportunities to attend workshops and conferences and conducts regular inservice training for the staff. She emphasizes continuing education and the importance of reading journals and articles in order to stay abreast with current practices.
Outreach: In her efforts to ensure the best outcomes for babies Nelisiwe even conducted home visits to the mother of twins not gaining weight at KMC follow up clinic. She discovered the mother had to work and the granny cared for the babies. She contacted the father and got his agreement to cover the financial needs of the family so that the mother didn’t need to work and could continue KMC of their twins.

From one of her staff members: “It takes passion, dedication, knowledge and skills to win the lives of little angels as small as 750g in a rural hospital with no resources. It happens at Shongwe Hospital and of course someone is behind it all-and her name is Nelisile Khanyile!”
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2013 – Hermia Matshoba

Head of Nursing
Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital, Eastern Free State

Hermia is the driving force behind enormous lifesaving changes for neonates in the area. When taking her current position at Manapo Hospital, Hermia had exactly 3 weeks to gather a team and make sure that the hospital got their COHSASA accreditation. What scared her the most was when she entered the Baby Care Unit or the first time and saw the terrible overcrowding (double the number of beds stipulated) and very poor standards of care, she nearly collapsed with shock. She knew that radical changes were necessary for the survival of these neonates in Manapo.

In a nurse driven project ,after implementing effective leadership, team and moral boosting activities, improved systems manegement and opening KMC and neonatal HC units, Hermia led the team from
 a 20% baseline survey to 88% during accreditation and over the months saw a 65% reduction in neonatal mortality. She realised that the sky was the limit and that her team had it in them to turn the worst Regional Hospital in the Province into the best!

Hermia comments: “We work in a culture where it’s completely acceptable not to be a performer and where the performers are often seen as a threat to the rest. Complaining has become a chronic disease that paralyses the health care system. We complain about a shortage of staff, but do not effectively utilise the staff we have; about lack of equipment, but what we have is not taken care
of; and that we are not trained to do what’s expected of us, but when sent for advanced training nothing changes when we return. These are all excuses for poor performance!”

She was was also once a midwife who dragged her feet, until she heard the lament of the community and vowed that enough was enough. She states: “In nursing people really need our help – we should listen to any negative feedback from patients and examine ourselves to see where we need to change. Each of us has the choice to change our behaviour, our attitude and our thoughts and to strive to be a better nurse.”

NNASA salutes a nurse leader who is prepared to stand against the flow, who is willing to examine herself and change, who cares passionately for her patients and community and who takes pride in being a nurse, but sees the need for inspirational leadership to bring revitilisation and transformation to a profession on it knees!

Her message to Nurses is to wake up, take charge, move with confidence, stop being comfortable in your comfort zones. Spread your wings and grow –read, read and read some more, and then implement what you have learnt! Please lets wake up our noble profession, which is dying in front of us, lets fight for it. No one can make a difference except us. Be significant in life. And remember it is not easy but it is worth it.
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