CT hospital shooting shows nurses dealing with more than just healthcare - MEC

The safety of these frontline workers while on duty has been thrust into the spotlight following a recent shooting at a Cape Town hospital in which three people, including a police officer, were killed.

FILE: Western Cape Health and Wellness MEC Nomafrench Mbombo says nurses are forced to absorb social ills plaguing society along with the high levels of violence it brings. Picture: Lindsay Dentlinger/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's socioeconomic ills have placed a heavier load on the shoulders of South African nurses, many of whom are forced to provide much more than just healthcare to their patients.

The safety of these frontline workers while on duty has been thrust into the spotlight following a recent shooting at a Cape Town hospital in which three people, including a police officer, were killed.

Apart from being healthcare providers nurses are forced to wear many hats, that of counsellors, friends, protectors and in some dangerous cases, like the shooting incident that played out at Somerset Hospital earlier this month, negotiators.

Western Cape Health and Wellness MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said that nurses were forced to absorb social ills plaguing society along with the high levels of violence it brings.

"Now it's about where you'll have a gangster who would have raped someone, who would have killed someone, and then they come there with a whole army of colleagues and then they threaten you," said the MEC.

Following a fatal shooting incident at Somerset Hospital, Sister Diane Seale made eye contact with the gunman, walked towards him and hugged him before escorting him to a cubicle.

She said that she put her hands on the suspect's shoulders and spoke calmly, convincing him to put the gun down and even getting him to agree to being sedated, before police stepped in.

Seale said that throughout the ordeal, her main goal was to isolate the shooter and get him away from other staff members and patients.