After 35 years of working at Groote Schuur Hospital without having taken a single day of sick leave during her time there, an impressively dedicated nurse, Sister Colleen Grehan, has officially retired from her post as a Wound Care Specialist.

Groote Schuur Hospital announced that one of the greatest heroes or heroines to ever grace its corridors will officially be leaving the healthcare establishment.

“I started nursing when I was two and a half. My mom was busy with my baby sister and I walked into the room with a towelling nappy on my head and she said, ‘What are you doing with that nappy?” and I said, “I’m a nurse”. So she made me a little uniform and she made beds out of tomato boxes, so by the time I was three I had a hospital. I used to bandage the cat and the dolls and put them all in beds.

I retired last year for 10 hours. But they had nobody to replace me so I came in the next morning, signed the papers and I was back. I’m 66, and now I’m retiring again. I don’t want to, but I have to,” said Grehan.

After her many years of service, Grehan spoke to Heroes of Groote Schuur, a Facebook page dedicated to mentioning the amazing people who tend to the wounded and support the sick at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Grehan mentions a specific case she will continue to remember long after her retirement.

“One of the cases that stands out for me was the girl that was mauled by dogs. The Philippi farmworker. She was the 6th victim of those dogs. They knocked her down and started chewing on her and every time she moved in the night they carried on and by the morning she had no flesh on her leg from the knee to the foot, they’d eaten it all off the bone with her awake. Eight people were attacked by those dogs. I was still busy with her when number seven came in. Number eight was killed. That patient did really well. She went home to the farm without a prosthesis.

“Recently I went to treat a patient in the maternity ward and she had her leg amputated and she had some narrow scars and I asked her if she was diabetic and she said no. So I asked what happened to her leg and she said “Sister you know….. the dogs” and that’s when I realised it was her. Sixteen years later she was here having a baby,” she said.

This dedicated nurse treated hundreds of patients each month and refused to take any days off because there was no one else to do the work so she made sure she was there without fail.

“In the dressing room if I’m not there there’s nobody to do my job. So I refuse to take off sick, I’m here no matter what. I’ve had times where I had a problem with my back and I could barely walk but I was here. A couple of times I’ve had to say to somebody please drive me to work because I can’t drive, but I was here. If I could just keep going I would keep going.

“Monthly I treat between 250-270 patients. Last year I did 3097 patients in one year,” said Grehan.

It is sad to think that locals will no longer be able to receive care from this exceptional woman and amazing nurse, but as we bid farewell, we thank Grehan for her unwavering service and are sure her stellar morals and work ethic will inspire many other in her field to maintain the same level of greatness.


Picture: Facebook

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