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When the AIDS epidemic was steadily increasing throughout South Africa in the early 1990s, Veronica Khosa was determined that something needed to change in her country.
A nurse by trade, Veronica was mortified by the number of sick HIV-positive patients that were merely sent home to die without proper treatment or care. Her solution? A home-based nursing health care system that teaches family and friends to care for seriously ill patients, and even how to rehabilitate them.
During the 1990s, when millions of people were living with AIDS in South Africa, the government simply couldn’t provide even the simplest treatments for the people. Because this epidemic was so new, most people did not know how to respond. AIDS patients didn’t necessarily receive proper respect from commoners, because of uncertainty of where it came from and how it spread. Chronically ill patients were being rejected or sent home from hospitals with no further direction or help. This is when Veronica decided to create Tateni Home Care Nursing Services.
Veronica’s nonprofit organization offers support services and counseling for both the sick and their families. Most importantly, this home-based nursing care system is affordable, unbiased and efficient, giving chronically and terminally ill people the care and respect they deserve.
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How it works: When a patient needs Tateni’s services, a trained nurse from Tateni will accompany a community care worker (who lives near the patient) to assess the illness and together they will develop a care plan. With the assistance of the nurse, the community care worker will train family members and friends to take care of the ill person in a respectful way that takes into account his or her wishes.
Veronica’s simple idea has made a huge impact. Today, Tateni does not just concentrate on AIDS patient care, but now extends services for sick children, orphans and patients with diabetes and cancer. It also provides social care assistance and helps teach patients how to earn money while fighting their illness.
After just 10 years of being open, Tateni provided health care counseling to more than 4,000 families and home-care services to more than 8,000 people. The South African Department of Health has adopted Veronica’s model of home-based care, now including palliative care in the curriculum for doctors and nurses. Other regions of Africa have also adopted this system. Her new project is to develop a similar community-based organization for orphan care, with hopes to spread it nationally.
Veronica is another example of an awesome innovator. Her health care system has received international attention for this simple, yet effective solution. Thousands of ill HIV/AIDS patients have been treated with respectable care and continue to everyday thanks to Veronica.