Cleaner dances with dying patient

Ljubica is a much-loved cleaner at Westmead Hospital who puts her whole heart into her work.

Ljubica Simic may be Westmead Hospital’s happiest cleaner. 

Her uplifting personality and kind-heartedness has touched a family so much that they have nominated her for an Australia Day Award.

Mimi Wellisch, who has completed the paperwork for Ljubica’s award nomination, said she is a local hero.

“Ljubica used to visit my husband Viggo Knackstredt who was a patient at the hospital to say hello and have a chat,” Mimi said.

Westmead cleaner Ljubica Simic with Mimi Wellisch at Westmead Hospital. Mimi is holding a photo of her husband Viggo Knackstredt.

“She’d encourage him to think positive thoughts … she is just so happy and cheerful … she made us laugh and made things so light-hearted when we were in a horrible place.” 

The relationship with the Wellisch family and Ljubica became so comfortable, she one day got Mr Knackstredt out of his bed and dancing. 

“Ljubica told us she loves to dance so she said to my husband come on, dance with me,” Mimi said.

Ljubica encouraged Mr Viggo to get out of his hospital bed and dance. Photo: supplied

“She put her mop down and made him tango … he was quite a shy person but she got him up … he was laughing so much.” 

After various treatments over a number of years, Mr Knackstredt’s condition deteriorated. 

He was diagnosed with myelodysplasia which progressed into mylofibrosis. He sadly passed away on January 11 this year. 

“Ljubica once saw us crying in the corridor so she put her arms around us and cried with us,” Mimi said.

“When my husband started losing his appetite she baked him a cake … he felt obliged to eat it and he enjoyed it. 

“Her job is a cleaner but she definitely has a much higher purpose … she has an unbelievably golden heart.” 

Cleaner Ljubica Simic dances with Mimi Wellisch in a Westmead Hospital corridor.

Ljubica said she puts her heart into her job.

“A lot of the people in my ward are in and out of the ward so we develop a relationship,” Ljubica said. 

“I don’t just clean, I help the patient – if they want water or a warm blanket, I will drop everything and help them.

“My mother had breast cancer, so I know when I see someone’s face that they are worried.”

A supplied photo of Ljubica tango dancing with Mr Viggo.

Ljubica affectionately called Mr Knackstredt ‘Mr Viggo’.

When she found out Mr Knackstredt was leaving Westmead Hospital to go to the supportive and palliative care unit at Mount Druitt Hospital she said her goodbyes. 

“When he left the hospital I said all the best Mr Viggo, I will never forget you.”