Clinic staff feed TB patients

Sr Sonja Lombard (left) and Myrtle Pietersen with Moses Mvunge, one of the patients who receive sandwiches before taking his medication. Photo: Joline van der Merwe

Nursing staff at the Empilisweni Clinic in Zwelethemba are making sandwiches at their own cost to feed patients in the community.

Myrtle Pietersen, a staff nurse at the clinic who mainly works with patients with Tuberculosis (TB) explains that they had patients coming in for treatment who did not have anything to eat. Some patients with severe TB have to drink up to 22 tablets at once while normal treatment requires them to drink six tablets. “Some of our patients were constantly nauseous and after investigating, we found some of them were unemployed and had nothing to eat,” says Pietersen. This prompted Pietersen and Sr Sonja Lombard to start making sandwiches for about 70 patients every day.

One of the patients, Moses Mvunge, says getting something to eat at the clinic has made a huge difference in his life. “At times I felt so weak from the treatment I received and had nothing to eat,” Mvunge said.

The nursing staff says there is a need to feed even more patients and also assist weekly TB patients with food. The project has also been added as one of the clinic’s activities for the Care Club initiative – a Department of Health (DOH) initiative to motivate staff to go the extra mile for their patients.

According to Jo-Anne Otto, spokesperson for the DOH says, TB is nothing to be ashamed about. “Some of our staff members have also contracted TB while working with patients. It is important to know that it is treatable,” Otto said.

One of the nursing staff at Empilisweni Clinic, who wished to remain anonymous, is currently also receiving treatment. She says having TB herself has been a real eye-opener because she can now identify with her patients.

Anyone who would like to assist the Empilisweni Clinic in supplying some of their patients with food can contact Joline van der Merwe at the Worcester Standard on 023 348 5111 or send an e-mail to

-By Joline van der Merwe and Ashli Prins 20 Julie 2015.

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