Two more nurses die of Covid-19 in the Western Cape

21 May 2020 - 22:30 By SIPOKAZI FOKAZI
Magdalena Julies is the fifth Western Cape nurse to die of Covid-19.
Magdalena Julies is the fifth Western Cape nurse to die of Covid-19.
Image: Supplied

Two more nurses died of Covid-19 complications on Thursday, bringing the number of nurses who have succumbed to the disease in the Western Cape to five so far.

Registered nurse Nandipha Kambi of Gugulethu died at Vincent Pallotti hospital after three weeks on a ventilator. She was a community screening manager for Cape Town non-profit organisation In The Public Interest (IPI), which does community screening for Covid-19 and chronic medication home deliveries.

Magdalena Julies, 67 - known as "Aunty Moemfie" - a paediatric nurse at Melomed Hospital in Bellville, died at Tygerberg Hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Julies' daughter Rushana Pieterse described losing her mother as “a very difficult time” for the family.

The family only received her Covid-19 results on Thursday evening – a few hours after her death. She had been tested on Wednesday last week after falling ill on Mother’s Day.

“It was a very difficult time the events leading to her death. The saddest part is you cannot visit, so there were no goodbyes. It is a very cold experience. The only comfort we have is the passion that she had serving people,” Pieterse told TimesLIVE.

Lynette Robain January was one of the people who wrote on Nurses who Care Facebook group. “At Bellville Melomed paeds [paediatrics] you walk in a stranger, but when you leave you are family. Moemfie was always smiling and welcoming. Rest in eternal peace, all nurses who’ve succumbed to Covid-19,” she said.

Sandra Marion expressed her condolences to families and friends of healthcare workers: “My heart is so sore reading this. I have a very close family member who was in quarantine for two weeks. No results yet. Today another very close family member went into quarantine. She had close contact working with a doctor who is positive. I pray her results come back negative.”

“This diseases is no more of a disease of ‘other people’ - it is affecting our very loved ones.”

Sister Nandipha Kambi of Gugulethu died this week due to Covid-19 complications.
Sister Nandipha Kambi of Gugulethu died this week due to Covid-19 complications.
Image: Supplied

Of Sister Kambi, the director of IPI Yumna Haffejee described the Gugulethu grandmother, who was in her 60s, as a dedicated manager who served her community well.

Kambi managed community screening teams who worked in Athlone and surrounding suburbs.

Haffejee said Kambi’s death had touched everyone at her organisation, to the point where staff had to be sent home early as they were inconsolable.

“She was on a ventilator for three weeks, but we thought that the worst was over when she was weaned off the ventilator. She was stable, so we all thought that she was getting better,” she said.

Haffejee described Kambi as a down-to-earth and dedicated nurse: “In the two years that I’ve worked with her, I’ve never heard her raise her voice even once. That’s how pleasant her personality was.”

The deaths of Kambi and Julies follow that of Anncha Kepkey from Parow, the assistant manager at the trauma unit at Tygerberg Hospital, who died due to Covid-19 at Melomed Hospital in Bellville on Wednesday morning.

Assistant nurse Ntombizakithi Ngidi was buried on Sunday.

Petronella “Ouma Nellie” Benjamin was the first nurse to die of Covid-19 in the province, on April 29.