Thank a nurse today

“Nurses are the backbone of health services,” says Emelda Lwena, head of nursing at CCBRT. Photo: Sala Lewis/CCBRT

It’s International Nurses Day today, and Emelda Lwena, who has been the Head of Nursing at CCBRT since 2007, tells us what it’s like nursing at the largest disability and rehabilitation hospital in the country.

“I am so proud of my nurses … Nurses are the backbone of health services– if you see a service, remember there is a nurse behind it,” says Lwena.

“I started in 2001 as a patient counselor. I was the person who advocated for patients throughout the hospital. We talked about the importance of treatment, sticking to their medications, their anxieties about the care, and anything else they wanted to discuss. In this role I was really able to understand the patient experience– the challenges they face, the fears they have. I tried to allay them as much as possible.”

A few years ago, Lwena trained in ‘lean management’ and says applying that knowledge to the wards has made a huge difference in how her nurses approach their work.

“It’s a problem solving approach based on continuous improvement. Whenever our CEO Erwin comes to the wards, he is always repeating “mgonjwa kwanza!” meaning “patient first” and it has become our mantra. Lean helps us serve them better.”

Lwena encourages staff initiative and facilitated a calmer workflow in the wards.

“If a nurse is at her station and she doesn’t have a patient, she goes to the step before hers to help out, make sure there is no backlog, and keep flow constant.”

“I have great team– very motivated and committed. They’re doing their best despite the challenges.”

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