‘When we first see the patient they don’t know where they are or what’s happening, but we are there to help them recover. It is a great feeling when the patient can go home well and safe. Everyone in my team is friendly and helpful, and there is good teamwork among the staff.’
Nurse Lensa Dinka works in the St Vincent’s Day Procedures Unit, where patients come for procedures like angiograms and endoscopies; that must be done in a hospital, but patients don’t stay overnight. Many patients are worried and anxious when they arrive.
Lensa knows better than most what it’s like to feel a bit lost and anxious.
A former refugee, who arrived in Australia with very little English, Lenka learnt the language and then studied nursing, determined to make a better life for herself.
When Lensa Dinka was just 16 years old, she and her siblings fled their home in Oromia to Sudan.
‘One morning my parents heard that my father was wanted again, and would be imprisoned if he was caught, so he had to flee the country,’ Lensa says. ‘He left with one umbrella, and never came back again. They also arrested and questioned my mother.’
After eight years in the refugee camp Lensa was finally granted a humanitarian visa, along with her partner, and they began a new life in Australia.
Lensa has worked in the St Vincent’s Day Procedures Ward for six years and finds the job very rewarding.
Having not seen her mother since she was 10 years old, and unable to return to Ethiopia, she never gave up hope of a reunion.
After many failed attempts to locate her mother through aid organisations, Lensa met someone in church who was from the same village as her family. With her help, Lensa managed to locate her mother and began supporting her from Australia.
When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Lensa arranged to meet her in Thailand, where she could receive treatment.
‘That was the first time I had seen her in 30 years,’ Lensa says. ‘She was so strong when I knew her, but when I finally saw her again she was very frail.’
When Lensa’s mother passed away last year, the team in Day Procedures were very supportive. The Day Procedures Manager asked if Lensa would like to share her powerful story on the staff bulletin board.
The board is updated monthly with different themes and staff stop by and have a laugh and a chat as they read the board. However when Lensa’s story went up, there was no laughing or chatting, only silent contemplation. Staff were incredibly moved by Lensa’s heart wrenching story.