Sure, it is a “man’s world”, but Heideveld-born hospital worker Mariam Anthony is on a mission to prove otherwise. As an administration clerk in the engineering department of the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, Anthony believes that “women just do it better”.
Anthony has been employed at Groote Schuur Hospital for the past 39 years and is nearing her retirement.
Working in a predominantly male department is not always easy.
“As a woman, you must have a strong character to work with all the men. If you show them respect you will get the same respect back from them, and that is what makes it so enjoyable to work in this department.
“I am very comfortable working with all my colleagues. They have become like my second family. I feel, as a woman, we need to be appreciated for what we do, especially someone like me who works in a male-dominated environment.”
Engineering the heart and soul of a hospital
Anthony started working in Groote Schuur’s engineering department in the early 1980s.
She recalls, “I started working at the hospital in 1982 in the Medical Informatics Department as a data typist.
“In 1993, I was moved to the engineering department and that is where I still am working. There are approximately 80 staff working in the department with most of the staff being men. My job entails doing the administration work for all the staff working in the department.”
Not many South Africans are aware of the important role that engineering serves in the effective operation of a hospital.
“Engineering plays a vital role in the hospital. We have plumbers, electricians and carpenters to name but a few artisans. Without them at the hospital, the hospital will not be able to function at all.
“I see us as vital for the hospital and I am proud that I can assist to make sure we provide quality care for our patients.”
Working in a hospital for 39 years has had highs and lows.
“One of my highlights is the fact that I met my husband, who is also an employee here, 20 years ago at the hospital. Sad moments are when colleagues die who have been working with you for [many] years. We also have fun moments where we play dominoes and cards during tea and lunch breaks. Just a pity Covid-19 has put a stop to that currently.”
Anthony is due to retire soon, but she can’t imagine life without working at the hospital (be it with mostly men or not). “I am proud to have made a difference in the lives of so many patients at the hospital.”
Offended by anti-vax remarks
Meanwhile staff at Groote Schuur say they were upset by remarks against healthcare workers during a demonstration outside the hospital this weekend.
A group of unmasked people alleged that Covid-19 vaccinations are part of a global conspiracy to curb population growth.
They accused healthcare workers of “killing” people.
In a statement the hospital said staff were left humiliated and demoralised by the comments.
“While you do have a right to choose to vaccinate or not, your further utterances denying the existence of Covid-19 are a direct indictment of the very patients with Covid-19 we are caring for today. There are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who are fighting for their lives while you dismiss their pain and suffering and label them.
“While the crux of their gripe focuses on anti-vaccination sentiments, they have taken aim and attacked our valued staff in a manner that is deeply disrespectful, accusatory, humiliating and demoralising.”