Overberg hero gives back one last time
Clinical nurse practitioner, Priscilla Brauns, is being recognised as a rural hero. Priscilla has been the Clinical Support at Houw Hoek quarantine and isolation (Q&I) site for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has worked relentlessly through weeks and weekends of rounds at the site to ensure that patients who cannot quarantine at home are clinically safe, treated for minor symptomatic ailments and referred to the emergency centers when indicated.
“Due to her skillset as a clinical nurse practitioner, she could pre-empt, plan and handle the challenges presented by the uncharted COVID-19 pandemic. She met the challenges head on, day by day and closely liaised with the managerial, cleaning, food and beverages and security teams of Houw Hoek, as well as the management and contact tracing teams of both Theewaterskloof and Overstrand sub-districts. CNP Priscilla Brauns successfully weathered the COVID-19 storm,” explains Louise Meyer, a Clinical Coordinator at the Overberg District Office.
For the past ten years, Sr Brauns has worked in the Clinical Nurse training unit and has focused her time on assisting and educating other healthcare professionals. She plans to retire at the end of 2020 and is grateful for having an opportunity to offer clinical support before ending her service. “I love clinical work and I really enjoyed seeing patients coming in who were not well and seeing them go home healthy. I was the only contact to the outside world and my visits to their doors really made their day. This was an opportunity for me to give back to the Overberg community one last time,” adds Sr Brauns.
As a 62-year-old, Sr Brauns falls into a higher COVID-19 risk group. “When I was first asked to assist, I did not think about the risk associated but when completing a risk assessment with my supervisor, she mentioned that my age is a factor,” explains Sr Brauns. However, Sr Brauns felt she was able to adequately protect herself: with many years of working with patients with different infectious diseases she knew protecting herself would come as second nature to her.
At first she thought that the monitoring of patients would be effortless as patients who make use of the quarantine and isolation sites are not critically ill, but when she settled into her new role it became clear why an on-site nurse was needed for this facility. Sr Brauns interviewed each patient upon arrival and made sure she knew her patients and the care they would need. Each patient needed to be assessed in the morning and late afternoon again, during this time she would need to assess vitals, prescribe and administer medication where necessary and arrange for patients who were deteriorating to be transferred to the nearest hospital. “At first it was difficult to monitor the patients without physical contact,” Sr Brauns points out. The most patients Sr Brauns had to care for simultaneously at the quarantine and isolation facility, was 104.
According to Sr Brauns the biggest challenge she experienced was human behaviour and ensuring that patients stayed in their rooms at all times, although she understands this was not always easy for them. She is grateful that all the patients who made use of the Q&I facility all recovered and made it back home safely. “By ensuring that her patients were symptom free and clinically safe before leaving the Q&I site, Sr Brauns protected their families and their communities,” says Louise.
“Doing all of this in the last few months as an employee of Western Cape Government Health before retiring at the end of 2020, showed the integrity and passion that she has been her motto throughout her nursing career. Working as a Clinical Nurse Trainer for many years made her the ideal person to set up and manage the Q&I site,” adds Louise.
“As Overberg District Office colleagues we wish her well on her journey as she is nearing the end of a very long and prosperous career in nursing. She has been a beacon of assurance for many young professional nurses.”
Sr Brauns advises health care professionals and the public that after COVID-19 your health remains important. “We need to empower ourselves and take care of our health, chronic patients need to pay attention and show interest in the conditions and mothers are to ensure that they follow the guidelines in their children’s road to health booklets.”