For Discovery Home Care professional nurse Lexi Johnson, her patients’ comfort and ease come first. A natural caregiver and mother of two, Sister Lexi is a firm favourite among her patients.
“I love working for Discovery Home Care because each patient gets our full attention. When we’re with a patient, we are dedicated to that patient only,” says 36-year-old professional Home Care nurse Alexcia Johnson – or “Sister Lexi” as her patients know her.
Born to care for others
Sister Lexi is one of Discovery Home Care’s professional nurses based in the Western Cape. She was born into a loving, supportive family and was raised on the Cape Flats. “I have always been a people person as my parents were very involved in the community,” she explains. “That’s where I got my love for helping people.”
Her dream was to become a doctor, but her parents couldn’t afford the tuition. “Many of my primary school friends had been absorbed into the underworld of gangsterism, drugs and violence in the Flats. I tried very hard not to be absorbed into that life and always felt I was born for something more,” she adds.
Sister Lexi was accepted to study a Bachelor of Nursing Science at the University of Stellenbosch. “My husband Germaine and I were best friends at high school and he also came along and studied nursing. At first, we really struggled financially, living off pilchards and bread,” she recalls.
“After four years of studying, I began to work in ICU at the Netcare N1 City Hospital in Cape Town, which I loved, but I was in the deep end at 22. With no previous ICU experience, it felt overwhelming working in a highly pressured environment with critically ill patients needing care. But sink or swim, you do what you have to.” Sister Lexi and Germaine, who in the meantime had started working as a medical representative, got married on 20 October 2007. They then moved to Johannesburg, where Sister Lexi worked in the surgical ICU at Milpark Hospital for five years.
After five years in Johannesburg, she decided to pursue her honours in psychology full-time in Stellenbosch. Her first-born, Gabriel, was only three months old at the time. She finished her honours and was about to start her masters when her second baby, Matthew, was born. “Having a husband who travels for work, and a toddler and infant to look after was hard. So, I put my master’s degree on ice and began working in ICU again, taking on only three shifts a week.”
Discovery Home Care welcomes Sister Lexi
It was at that time that Sister Lexi saw the vacancies for Home Care nurses on the Discovery website. She applied in November 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. To start, she received training on the specific types of medicine Home Care nurses need to administer: “We are trained especially in enzyme-based medicine, like the ones I administer to Magriet Nortjé and her son Etienne. I wouldn’t have had any experience with this type of medicine in ICUs,” she explains.
“We are also trained on the pathophysiology of each disease we work with and how the treating medicine works. We also have wound care training – for example, how to treat pressure sores, how they develop and how they can be prevented. Compression therapy training was also new to me,” she says.
Home Care nurses treat patients in the comfort of home
Sometimes Sister Lexi sees several patients a day, and sometimes she sees only one. When she administers her patient Manie Kleynhans’s Polygams infusion, she sees him and him alone for two days, from 08:00 to 17:00 each day. She spends four hours with the Nortjés when she administers their Fabrazyme infusions.
Her day starts anywhere between 06:00 and 08:00 and can extend up to 20:00. But her patients know they can call on her any time. “Patients we know well have our contact numbers and send us messages when someone is not feeling well. A colleague of mine, Home Care nurse Drikie Richardson, had a 93-year-old woman under her care for wound care. When the patient was having a stroke, the family called Drikie instead of the paramedics without giving it a second thought. Drikie immediately directed them to emergency medical care. The family didn’t realise how serious it was but they trusted Drikie so much that she was the first port of call.”
Sister Lexi speaks to the benefits of Home Care
“For most people, a hospital is a very strange territory,” she says. “My patient Manie Kleynhans always tells me that he loves the fact that I come to his house. He can stay in bed when he is feeling cold or tired and I come with all the equipment I need to administer his care. Research also proves that when you are home you are far calmer and more relaxed. We nurses are also well aware that the medical environment and procedures – infusions and so on – are foreign to our patients. Therefore, it’s important to take time to explain every step of the process, so that patients feel that they are at the centre of the value-based healthcare we provide.”
“I treat a nine-year-old girl who needs Polygam infusions. We administer her medicine while she is watching TV, lying on her bed and feeling relaxed. She can attend school in the morning and I go and treat her later, so there is minimal interruption to her life.”
“My patients and I become like family,” adds Lexi. “We talk about anything that bothers them – how they are feeling and all sorts of things. We discuss anything required to make sure the patient understands their care and is at ease with any processes they need to undertake. Home Care nurses are there for every step of the patient journey.”
DISCOVERY HEALTH MEDICAL SCHEME IS AN INDEPENDENT NON-PROFIT ENTITY GOVERNED BY THE MEDICAL SCHEMES ACT, AND REGULATED BY THE COUNCIL FOR MEDICAL SCHEMES. IT IS ADMINISTERED BY A SEPARATE COMPANY, DISCOVERY HEALTH (PTY) LTD, AN AUTHORISED FINANCIAL SERVICES PROVIDER.
Discovery Home Care
Discovery Home Care is a unique home-based service that offers you quality care in the comfort of your own home when recommended by your doctor as an alternative to a hospital stay if appropriate. With Home Care, there is minimum disruption to your normal routine and family life. Cover includes postnatal care, end-of-life care, IV infusions (drips) and wound care. We pay for these services from the Hospital Benefit as long as you get approval beforehand. Find out more about Discovery Home Care or call 0860 46 22 73.
Discovery recently received a heartfelt letter from Edith Canhola, a 60-year-old project coordinator from Table View in the Cape. In it, she thanks Discovery Home Care for sending professional nurses Sister Lexi Johnson and Sister Drikie Robertson into her life.
Dr Nazeem Ismail, Undersecretary to the National Assembly in Parliament, has been wheelchair-bound for 20 years. He recently started using the Discovery Home Care benefit to treat an infection and says it has made a massive difference in his life.
Discovery Home Care has ended years of highly stressful, disruptive, regular hospital admissions for Manie Kleynhans. Now, he receives the intravenous medicine he needs, every six weeks for the foreseeable future, while he relaxes in his lounge