Clinic pioneer won’t stop till there’s a hospital
A professional nurse who founded a clinic has made it her mission to help a community devastated by teenage pregnancies and HIV — and she aims to head a hospital.
In 2015 Reeston’s Sophathisana High was the school with the highest number of teenage pregnancies in South Africa, and since then these numbers have stayed high. Nobom Nini, a nurse with 24 years’ experience, opened her clinic in the community on December 11.
“Reeston is a relatively new residential area with a population of about 40,000, with no clinic within 5km walking distance or 10km driving distance. There is only one mobile clinic visiting, with limited services,” said Nini.
Nini has worked elsewhere as an operations manager, at a district office as a deputy director of all programmes and also as a clinical liaison officer in different non-profit organisations (NPOs).
She is now the manager at Unjani Reeston clinic, which offers services for minor aliments, sexually transmitted infections, wound care, family planning, HIV testing, wellness screening, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, asthma and arthritis treatment, antenatal and postnatal care and sonar scans.
“I’m caring, passionate, flexible and patient. My goal is to be an entrepreneur with the first female-owned private hospital in the province. I have dealt with HIV at my previous jobs, and I have developed a passion for helping children living with HIV. When I started the clinic, I worked with the Small Project Foundation (SPF) to empower these children, especially between the ages of 13 to 17 years.”
She says there are high numbers of people who default on their treatment, for both communicable and non-communicable diseases, and this is one of the areas where her clinic is of great benefit for the community.
Reeston is a relatively new residential area with a population of about 40,000, with no clinic within 5km walking distance or 10km driving distance. There is only one mobile clinic visiting, with limited services
“In 2016 I attended an Aids conference, and I was in a commission for children living with HIV where they pointed out the need for secondary prevention, as the focus is mainly with primary prevention.” Primary HIV prevention reduces the incidence of transmission (so that fewer people become HIV-infected), whereas secondary HIV prevention reduces the prevalence and severity of the disease through early detection and prompt intervention (so that fewer HIV-positive people progress to Aids).
“Also, there is non-disclosure — some are unaware of the treatment they are taking and they end up defaulting. They are also rebellious — some opt for using drugs and some become sex workers. Some parents are overprotective of them. All of this inspired me a lot,” said Nini.
Nini works with NPOs such as SPF and Isisombululo as she is not getting any form of assistance from government.
She forms support groups of 15 children each.
The main challenge at the clinic is burglaries.
She said during lockdown patient numbers dropped, mainly due to lack of transport.
Since it’s a private clinic the numbers drop due to the accessibility in terms of transport and the lockdown in other jobs
“Since it’s a private clinic the numbers drop due to the accessibility in terms of transport and the lockdown in other jobs. I was also infected by Covid-19 and I was in quarantine for three weeks, which resulted in closing of the facility.
“Financially we struggled a lot, but the experience also made me a better person because now I know how to manage Covid-19 patients.”
She also assists taxi drivers with free screening and educates them about a healthy lifestyle.
“As I was passing by the Dice taxi rank during lockdown level 5, I invited three drivers to come to the clinic for free basic screenings and managed to educate them about healthy lifestyles and eating habits. I also supplied masks and sanitisers to drivers and their operators since they were at risk of contracting the virus.”
The clinic has only two staffers.
“Compliments from the community keep me going, and also referrals from those I gave quality service to. Some also praise the clinic on social media and that alone shows me my services do have an effect,” she said.
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