Sitting at the beside of a dying person

Meet Desteny Adams – the new hospital manager on the block at Centurion Hospice

 Sitting in front of the newly painted and renovated In-Patient Unit at Centurion Hospice, the newly appointed manager, or in medical terms, the new matron, clucks like a proud mother hen.

She is Desteny Adams.  A nurse that started working at the Centurion Hospice as an out-patient nurse, and now, deservingly so, promoted to the manager of this unit where fourteen patients can be accommodated. “I cannot wait to welcome our first patients,” She croons, donned in her blue nursing uniform. “Look”, she points to the three stripes and one star resting on her shoulders, “community nursing, general nursing, psychiatric nursing and I am a midwife as well.”

Since starting at Centurion Hospice around three years ago, Desteny has become the heart and soul of the palliative care team. “She is funny. She is dedicated. She is colourful. She is our Dessie,” says Annelize Greyling, the nursing manager at Centurion Hospice.

And yes indeed, her dresses were colourful, parrot-like before her days in the uniform.  Her flat shoes, giving her the comfort to walk from one patient’s bedside to another, and her Alice band, keeping her fringe from falling into her eyes,  are the only accessories the former Desteny has kept.

She takes her Florence Nightingale pledge very seriously, sitting beside dying patient’s beds, holding their hands, escorting them to the light. “I have sat beside many dying people. I can’t even count any longer – too many. I still cry when a patient dies because I walk the last few steps of their lives with them. Sometimes, they want to make peace with their Maker, family, or friends. I support them and guide them all the way.” 

It takes a remarkable person to be a palliative nurse. Desteny is one of them.  Just imagine, she was almost not part of the nursing profession. “My mother wanted me to become a lawyer – I suppose they earn more money,” she laughs. 

But she gave her mother the cold shoulder and went to the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town to be trained as a nurse.

Her mother was the first patient that she lost. She sat next to her until she took her last breath.

With her motherly instincts and love, her big smile, and warm heart, Desteny is a favourite among patients.

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