Covid-19 angst takes toll on Tshwane hospital staff
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Pretoria – Covid-19 angst is taking a toll on staff at Jubilee District Hospital in Hammanskraal, as many nurses and doctors are calling in sick mainly due to exhaustion.
This was the bleak picture painted by the hospital public relations officer Moses Tlamama, who said that the hospital was beset by staffing challenges arising from the relentless demands of the pandemic.
He said among the challenge for staff causing anxiety was having to work with more patients but fewer staff because those who test positive or have been in contact with someone positive have to isolate.
Tlamama said some staff members were losing close family members as a result of Covid-19 while also dealing with critically ill patients.
Aside from health-care workers who get sick, others are exhausted, and feeling a feeling of deep fear and dread, more than nine months into the pandemic.
He said it was difficult to get doctors and nurses with specialised skills in contract posts, and none of the Cuban doctors who came to South Africa to assist were assigned to Jubilee.
Regarding the preparedness of the hospital to accommodate Covid-19 patients, Tlamama said: "Jubilee Hospital has an alternative building technology structure with 300 beds, which is more than enough."
He said that not all patients who tested positive were required to be admitted to the hospital; many are treated as outpatients.
“The decision to treat or admit is based on the clinical presentation of the patient. Those who do not require admission are given information on what to do at home and monitor themselves and when to report back to hospital.
’’There is an option of sending patients to Narsrec (field hospital) for isolation," he said.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in Gauteng raised the alarm that hospitals in the province were overwhelmed and not ready to handle the influx of Covid-19 patients due to the second wave of the pandemic.
The union lamented the fact that a growing number of front-line workers and hospital workers had contracted the virus and urged the government to provide additional resources to health facilities.
They also said the delay in providing PPEs was a problem for hospital workers was a problem. However, Nehawu welcomed new that a vaccine would soon be available to health care workers.
The mental health of healthcare workers during the pandemic is a cause for concern not only locally, but globally with fear of becoming ill or not being able to do enough to save a patient among the fears faced.