Sitting at the beside of a dying person

October 12, 2020 | Press Releases

Meet Desteny Adams – the new hospital manager on the block at Centurion Hospice

13 October 2020: Desteny Adams, a single mother of four, of which two are adopted, was promoted in October to the position of Manager of the newly opened In-Patient Unit (IPU) at Centurion Hospice in Pretoria.

Adams is originally from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape and has found a new life and family in Pretoria.

“Of course I miss the sea, I miss my hometown, I miss my family, but the people at this hospice and the patients became my adopted family,“ says Desteny while sitting in front of the newly painted and renovated IPU that will open its doors at the end of October this year.

“I cannot wait to welcome our first patients,” she croons, donned in a blue nursing uniform. “Look”, she points to the three stripes and one star resting on her shoulders, “community nursing, general nursing, psychiatric nursing and I am a midwife as well. I also did training in hospice and palliative care.”

Since starting at Centurion Hospice, Desteny has become the heart and soul of the palliative care team. “She is funny. She is dedicated. She is colourful. She is our Dessie,” says Annelize Greyling, the Nursing Manager at Centurion Hospice.

Her dresses were indeed colourful before her days in uniform. Her flat shoes, givingher the comfort to walk from one patient’s bedside to another, and her Alice band, keeping her fringe from falling into her eyes, are the only accessories the former Desteny has kept.

She first worked as a home-based palliative care nurse and every patient became part of Desteny’s story. “I cried when Pat, an elderly woman who was diagnosed with skin cancer, died in June this year. I cried because she was so strong, so determined to live until she died. I was there when she took her last breath. She died in peace. Her story, the person she was, is something that will stay with me forever.”

Desteny takes her Florence Nightingale pledge very seriously, sitting beside dying patient’s beds, holding their hands, escorting them to the light. “I have sat beside many dying people. I can’t even count any longer – too many. I still cry when a patient dies because I walk the last few steps of their lives with them. Sometimes, they want to make peace with their Maker, family, or friends. I support them and guide them all the way.”

It takes a remarkable person to be a palliative nurse. Desteny is one of them. Just imagine, she was almost not part of the nursing profession. “My mother wanted me to become a lawyer – I suppose they earn more money,” she laughs.

But she gave her mother the cold shoulder and went to the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town to be trained as a nurse.

Her mother was the first patient that she lost. She sat next to her until she took her last breath. And that she will continue to do – until she closes her eyes.

Anette Reed, General Manager of Centurion Hospice, says: “Desteny demonstrates an extraordinary dedication to her patients. Her love for her work shines through in everything she does, and for that we are profoundly grateful.”



Centurion Hospice provides high quality care to people with life-limiting and life-threatening illness or injuries. Our services are provided in the client’s home by a team of professional nurses, social workers and caregivers supported by medical doctors. Medical care, pain management, psychosocial services, bereavement counselling, support groups and support for the carers are offered.

Their Vision is quality of life for all living with life-limiting conditions. They provide physical, psychological, spiritual and bereavement support during this difficult journey and home visits are often the only assistance offered to some families. They also deliver medication and their staff travel to their clients wherever they are.

Website: http://www.centurionhospice.com