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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) continues to commend all its essential workers for their dedication and commitment in providing services to the university community during the COVID-19 pandemic. DUT’s Communications team’s Simangele Zuma spoke to Sister Caren Jagessar, a Senior Professional Nurse based at the Isolempilo Campus Clinic (Steve Biko Campus). 

Q: Please tell me about your role at DUT? 

A: “I am a Senior Professional Nurse, based at the Steve Biko Campus Clinic, under the Student Counselling and Health Department. My core function is to provide a primary care service to the DUT students.” 

Q: How long have you been in that role? 

A: “I have been in this role since January 2020.” 

Q: If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why? 

A: “If I were to be an animal, I would be a tiger because it is in my opinion, a graceful and strong animal. A tiger symbolises independence and cunning.” 

Q: How has it been like working during COVID-19? 

A: “As a nurse working in a clinic environment, there is a constant risk of exposure. However, there are measures put in place which can reduce risk, such as appointment booking and use of an isolation room for suspected COVID-19 patients. These measures have some sense of relief, however, the risk of contracting the disease is real and always present. One has to ensure that safety precautions and personal protective wear is always used.” 

Q: How do you deal with the fear of contracting COVID-19 and losing a loved one due to the virus? 

A: “I was infected with COVID-19 in December 2020. Thankfully, my family and I have recovered, in the early days when I tested positive for COVID-19, I had much anxiety, not knowing how the disease was going to affect me, my husband and my two children. My youngest child was six months at the time. Thankfully, we had mild symptoms which were treated at home. Together with the anxiety I had experienced the other aspect was the isolation, I was feeling detached and cut off from those close to me.  I have not lost anyone close to me to the COVID-19 pandemic, which I am grateful for.” 

Q: Your typical day entails? 

A: “My typical day entails waking early prepping my kids for their day, dropping my youngest at her day-care and arriving at the clinic, where I will see students who are accessing health care. After the day’s work, I head back home, prepare dinner, go over homework with my oldest and hear about the highlights of his day. It’s a typical mom’s life. Nothing glamorous.”  

 Q: Have you been vaccinated? 

A: “Yes, I have been vaccinated.” 

Q: What is your take on the vaccine? 

A: “It is beneficial to take the vaccine as the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms is greatly reduced. Currently, there is no cure for the COVID-19 virus and the vaccine currently is the only form of intervention or protection. In my opinion it isn’t much of a choice.” 

Q: When not at work, what do you do for fun? 

A: “There’s not much that I do currently due to the pandemic. I avoid taking my kids out unnecessarily. I enjoy spending time with them, working on home projects. My hobbies include crochet, reading and baking.”   

Q: What is your biggest wish in life? 

A: “For my family to stay healthy and a cure for COVID-19 and even cancer.” 

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