Florence Vaughan, a popular nurse at Lansdowne clinic is leaving there after four years to take up a new post.
Sister Vaughan, 57, was 19 when she started at Groote Schuur Hospital as a general nurse – she still remembers running away “down the street” the first time she experienced a patient dying.
Later, she spent seven years in the cancer unit, looking after high-care patients.
She moved to the Lansdowne clinic in 2015. Her job has been an equal mix of clinical and administrative tasks, including outreach programmes and vitamin and measles campaigns at schools.
Lansdowne clinic is small, but it sees a lot of patients. “It’s difficult especially when one of the staff is off sick or on leave, and then the clinic is understaffed, which makes you unable to perform 100%. It is, however, a nice area to work in as the clientele is different,” said Sister Vaughn. “It was my destiny to become a nurse, I always had a passion for the job.”
She has helped people who have survived rape, abuse and other trauma.
“We do grassroots work, going into people’s homes, and you want to talk about hygiene, but there isn’t a bar of soap or you want to talk about drinking eight glasses of water, but there is no water.
“People are struggling they are poor, and this job brings you down to earth. You have to have a passion for people and caring for the community. You must come down to people’s level, even if you have to sit on the floor and speak to them.”
She has phoned gang leaders to fetch medication for gang members defaulting on treatment so that their infections don’t spread.
“I remember cases where social workers had to be called where a child was abused or neglected and later in life you will see that same child in the road, and they run to you and hug you and remember you. That is the greatest joy.”
Sister Vaughan said she had come to love the community.
“You go into wealthy places and underprivileged areas, and you must know how to adapt to both. We need to understand that we are just here to offer a service, we are no better than anyone, we are the servants of the community.”
Ward councillor Mark Kleinschmidt thanked her for her hard work and passion for the community. “You have impacted this community but you will still do so to many more lives even after you retire. Thank you for all that you have done for this community.”
Colleague Anne Hendricks said Sister Vaughan’s warm-hearted ways would be missed.
“We could go to her with anything, work related or personal, and she was always there to help us.”
Sister Vaughan will be taking up a clinic manager position and will be based at various clinics in Cape Town.