COVID19 has demanded the best of us, with multiple sacrifices being made by so many across all areas of daily life. Yet it is truly our frontline workers, whose courage and selflessness has known no bounds, to whom we express our greatest gratitude. It is these everyday heroes who, every single day, leave the safety of their homes and loved ones to support and take care of so many others who truly deserve our deepest acknowledgement.
It takes a special kind of strength, dedication, and humility to show up in distressing times. By just doing their jobs, these men and women are completely changing the lives of countless people.
Melanie Stahl is such an individual. With 34 years of nursing behind her, she is in no doubt that the last few months have truly been the most challenging of her career. “I have always found nursing to be a challenging profession,” says Melanie. “We are constantly on our feet, taking care of the fragile and vulnerable with very little time to catch our breath. And, no two days are ever the same. Yet even that doesn’t come close to the last few months. One hears of colleagues that you have worked with, in other hospitals and healthcare facilities, who have passed away from the virus.”
“The fears and anxieties are enormous. I try not to overthink everything, albeit it very difficult not to. My biggest priority is to try and stay as safe as possible for the sake of my family that I come home to every night. Having lost my Mom at a very young age, my family, children and grandchildren are very important to me and so, even in my own home, there is currently no physical contact such as hugging or kissing for now.”
Passionate about the care and welfare of others, Melanie knew from a young age that she wanted to become a nurse. But it is not always an easy road. “I remember, barely five months into nursing, losing my first patient. It was the hardest moment, and I just didn’t know if I could carry on,” says Melanie. There are also constant daily challenges. “Some days are just so busy that you don’t have a moment to catch your breath. Many years ago, I will never forget how I forgot to give a patient her afternoon tea, and how much this upset me. Yet, the kindness and care from our colleagues always gets us through and keeps us going.”
As challenging as the years of nursing have been, the moments of joy and fulfillment are immense. After working in many different areas of nursing over the years, Melanie is currently part of the Cath Lab, and it is here that she feels she has truly found her niche. “The patients we care for in the Cath Lab are very sick and in need of critical care. Having to leave home unexpectedly due to an emergency, often in the dark or cold, can at times feel a bit challenging. However, as soon as that emergency procedure has been completed, the patient’s blood vessel is open and you see the colour return to his or her cheeks, and a smile break out on their face, any middle of the night or early morning discomfort or tiredness you may have felt is long forgotten. It is truly an immensely rewarding profession.”
However, Melanie’s dedication to her extended community extends far beyond the walls of the hospital. As part of her commitment to others, and her dedication to improving the lives of disadvantaged members within her community, Melanie works tirelessly to try and bring about change. She unselfishly shares her knowledge and skills through regular presentations, awareness programmes and information sessions throughout her congregation and community.
In addition, Melanie is also a volunteer and member of her congregation’s Wellcare team that provides the community with much needed essentials such as regular soup kitchens and food parcels. And, as coordinator of her church’s Sunday School programme, she further ensures the smooth running of the Sunday’ School programme to create and provide a safe, friendly and welcoming environment where the children are able to be spiritually nurtured.
Long days, exhausting hours and, at times, the most stressful and demanding of conditions … what motivates Melanie to get up and keep going every day? “My family, my faith and the deep love I have always had for my fellow man,” says Melanie. “We meet and care for people when they are at their most fragile, trying to bring hope to what, in some cases, could be the worst day of their lives. To connect with people at that level, I consider a great honour and privilege.”
Keep Going Melanie!
And our sincerest thanks and appreciation to you and all your colleagues!