Ginny Wanjiro, a Kenyan nurse at St. Thomas’ Hospital in the United Kingdom, has launched an initiative to care for the appearance of patients from ethnic minority groups in intensive care units (ICU).
The nurse who lived in the UK for 30 years combed her patients’ hair and moistened their skin to ensure their hair was not cut during procedures due to extreme entanglement.
Wanjiro was concerned about the huge number of patients from other ethnic minorities arriving at the ward with their hair or skin in very poor condition, and decided to buy combs to help them look their best.
Ginny Wanjiro and other nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital holding combs to beautify patients.
She also noted that many of the patients, who were black women, couldn’t comb their hair because the hospital only provided plastic combs that couldn’t detangle the afro hair.
“Most of the time we ran down to buy the combs and brushes,” Wanjiro said in an interview with St Thomas’ Hospital.
The nurse started a three-month pilot program that trained 20 nurses and more to care for the hair of about 250 patients.
“The nursing staff are trained to care for different hair textures and skin tones and to groom patients with an appropriate comb.”
“Patients are allowed to keep the combs as soon as they leave the intensive care unit,” Wanjiro said in an interview with St. Thomas’ Hospital.
The nurse started the project during the pandemic after taking care of very sick patients in the wards.
“Yes, they were sick, but other than that, they were in terrible shape. Because the hair was tangled, we had to cut a lot of it.”
“While we saved lives, we felt we had done collateral damage by cutting people’s hair,” explains Wanjiro.
Wanjiro remembered how good her father looked before he died in Kenya and decided to make sure her patients looked presentable
“Any moment could have been the last moments the patients had with their families. That made me want to work even harder to make sure their faces looked beautiful. Keeping your spirits up is especially important in the ICU,’ Wanjiro added.
Hair and skin care training in the hospital took place on an informal basis, with knowledge being transferred from nurse to nurse.
The three-month program had more nurses on a daily basis.
Wanjiro’s concern for the sick mirrors that of a nurse in training Lukresia Robai, whose videos dancing in front of a hospital went viral in November 2022.
Ginny Wanjiro at St Thomas’ Hospital with combs used to beautify patients.
The Irish News