Groote Schuur Hospital IT team enabled patient-centered care during Covid-19
Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) values self-reflections to enable employees to take a step back, reflect on the current COVID-19 situation, integrate learnings, plan and celebrate both personal and professional accomplishments. This week, the officials in the Information Management (IT hardware) Department are reflecting on how the pandemic affected them in recent months. The department consists of Jackie Van Jaarsveldt, the manager; Tabisile Tinti, the IT clerk; Alistair Abrahams, the general assistant and Nadeem Sampson, the intern.
“The IT hardware department has a vital role to play at the hospital and without us it cannot function effectively. We purchase, install and repair all computers, printers and webcams at the hospital. Procuring network connections is important so that staff can stay in contact. We manage the Ditcom process [which entails the procurement of information technologies] and assist with the technical refresh for new computers and printers,” was how the team summarised their duties at the hospital.
“I heard about COVID-19 for the first time in November 2019. It was affecting people in China. [I] was just following the news to see how it was affecting others around the world. It was far away and [I] did not think it [would] affect us in South Africa,” recalled Jackie, who has been employed at the hospital for 32 years.
The IT hardware department had to come up with innovative ways to help staff and patients at the height of the pandemic. “With all changes taking place in wards we had to be part of it. Our worked doubled in the time when COVID-19 started. We had to set up the testing centre with new equipment and at the same time set up the COVID-19 wards. This included setting up computers, printers and tablets in these wards. A big innovation was the Computer On Wheels, [an initiative] to make it easier for doctors to move the computers around in the COVID-19 wards when they are treating different patients. The idea was really to make the hospital paperless,” recalled Tabisile.
“Another change was that Wi-fi [connectivity] was now in wards. Patients could not get visitors. The hospital got cellphones so that patients [could] communicate with their family. We as a department had to set up,” was a special memory for Nadeem in terms of how they could assist the patients.
COVID-19 has taught all of us many lessons, and for Tabisile it was that, “We laugh together, and [often struggle] together. This team is there for each other, we will take on a task together and if anything goes wrong the team will suffer together. So much has happened, and we had to do so much including going into COVID-19 wards to make sure all the equipment [was] working but still not one of us has been positive for COVID-19. [This] shows how we also look out for each other to make sure we are all safe. We have had to work under pressure and just do so much at the same time but at the end we came out on top.”
Emotionally the team has gone through difficulties during the pandemic. “We [would] go into all the COVID-19 areas and our biggest fear was [that we could] take this [virus] home to our family. We would then be blamed at home for bringing the virus home because we work at a hospital,” was how Alistair recalled the fear they all had. One of the officials in the IT department lost a sibling due to COVID-19 and that was very emotional for this team where they have close bonds. The whole team received counselling following this emotional experience.
“COVID-19 is still with us and the message is simple, just stay positive in all you do [and keep safe],” was the parting message from the team.
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