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Voice of a trauma nurse in KZN

Published Aug 31, 2020


DURBAN - A KwaZulu-Natal based nurse recently took to social media to share her experience working in a trauma ward during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With 12 years of experience, working in the trauma unit, Nicky de Witt says there’s nothing that could have prepared her for what she has experienced in the Covid-19 wards.

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In her Facebook post, that has been shared over 200 times, De Witt said: “I never cried in trauma no matter how hard the day was, but now I cry daily. We are losing patients on every shift and it is breaking my heart. What I am seeing every day does not feel real. This virus is cruel and it is a beast. It shows no mercy. I have young, healthy patients on ventilators fighting for their lives. The worst part of all of this is that my patients are alone; no family are allowed in.”

KwaZulu-Natal has recorded the second-highest number of laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, with 2 138 deaths. While South Africa has been the hardest hit African country, the recovery rate has been encouraging. The country has registered 538 604 recoveries, which equates to a recovery rate of 86 percent.

The 34-year-old De Witt said: “No one tells you how dehydrated you are going to get. For twelve hours you don't drink or eat and you can't go to the loo because it means taking off your PPE and putting on a new set, and there is just not enough to go around. The hospital is doing everything it can to get PPE. I wear the same N95 mask for twelve hours every day. At the end of the day, I put it into a brown paper bag and it gets sent off to get ‘zapped’ by a machine,”

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SEE ALSO: My experience working in a Covid-19 ICU

“It is like a sauna in that PPE. I sweat through my space-suit in the first half an hour of my shift. My visor keeps fogging up and I constantly worry my mask is not on properly, and this virus is going to get through. You can't see your patient properly through the fog.

You keep wearing the same mask every day until it breaks. I’ve had my mask break three times in a cubicle with an infected patient,” she said.

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With the country now at alert level 2, there are high chances of a second wave Covid-19 infections. De Witt says that people have to be responsible, wear a mask, wash your hands and practise social distancing.

“Please check in on your friends and family that are healthcare workers, there is not a lot of support for us at the moment. There will be a rainbow after this storm, but right now we have to fight. And we are fighting hard for the people of this beautiful country,” she said.

Read the full letter.

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