At the end of February, Mediclinic Southern Africa greeted their long-serving Nursing Executive, Dr Estelle Coustas, as she walked out of the Stellenbosch based Corporate Office for the last time into a well-deserved retirement.

Joining Mediclinic in 2004, Estelle has been a driving force within the nursing environment, both within and outside Mediclinic, serving on various industry forums and committees, to ensure that healthcare and nursing trends are challenged and constantly improving. Completing her doctorate in 2015, Estelle tackled the important topic of retaining skilled and valued foreign registered nurses, a vital area in a country challenged by a shortage of experienced nurses.

Koert Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer of Mediclinic Southern Africa, explains Estelle’s unique contribution, “I salute Estelle for her leadership and service to Mediclinic and the nursing profession in South Africa. Estelle has always been loyal to her profession, and she made many sacrifices to promote the nursing profession and to support her colleagues – not only within Mediclinic, but also outside of our company. To her I say ‘Thank you for remaining positive and committed over such an extended period.’”

Estelle is well-known across the industry for this passion for nursing. She practiced nursing for more than 40 years and has served within the critical care units and management of a number of the Western Cape leading hospitals. Her work within management has advanced the role that nursing plays within areas such as patient safety, quality improvement and access to nursing education.

Amongst industry colleagues, Dr Estelle Coustas is remembered for many things. “Our engagements and debates have always been stimulating, tinged with humour, because how else do you survive the current day challenges in health and nursing!” explains Dr Nelouise Geyer, CEO of the Nursing Education Association.

“Estelle and I had the opportunity to serve on the SA Nursing Council together and she always came up as the voice of reason. Always explaining what was happening in the clinical area and amplifying the voice of the nurse on the floor,” says Dr Sharon Vasuthevan, Education Executive for Life Healthcare.

“From the time we met I realised that this lady is remarkable, a passionate nurse, with a flair and passion for the profession that was unique,” says Fasie Smith, Lenmed Group Nursing Services Manager. “Over the years she has become a colleague, a mentor, a friend and example to not only me, but many nurses of different categories in SA. We served together on internal and external committees and her extensive knowledge, gut feel and wisdom always stood all in good stead.”

Hendrica (Monyebodi) Ngoepe takes over the Nursing Executive role from Estelle, and is encouraged by the wealth of experience in the team Estelle leaves behind. “I am excited by the opportunity and look forward to build on the initiatives started by Estelle, and using my own experiences to create a further legacy for the nursing team of Mediclinic.” Hendrica has been promoted from her role as Regional Clinical Manager, bringing rich operational experience from her 23 years in management, to her new position.

Koert Pretorius concludes, “Estelle has that unique credibility to fulfil her role successfully because people trust and respect her.”

Mediclinic would like to thank Estelle for her passion and commitment to driving forward the quality of care we deliver on a daily basis. We wish you well on your retirement, with more than enough time to spend with friends, family and old colleagues.