Healthcare staff literally putting their lives on the line
The Western Cape Government Health (WCGH) is deeply disheartened by the passing of 20 staff members (WCGH: 17; CoCT: 3) in the last 20 days. The pandemic has claimed the lives of 71 WCGH public health workers to date and approximately 1000 overall deaths in the Western Cape during the last week.
“These are not just numbers. They were mothers, colleagues, contributors in the community, shoulders-to-cry-on, care givers and an incredible loss to the people whose lives they touched. We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to their bereaved loved ones, acquaintances and colleagues,” says Chief Operating Officer, Dr Saadiq Kariem.
The increase in staff decedents coincides with immense staffing pressures on the health system. The Department has made a call for volunteers, particularly retired/unemployed persons with health experience, in attempts to bolster the efforts of those working tirelessly throughout the festive season; facing the pandemic as well as other emergencies that are commonplace during this time.
Through the establishment of onsite wellness clinics, equipped with trained professionals, at various health facilities the precedence of mental health and wellbeing of staff has come to the fore. These on-site clinics are available via the Employee Health and Wellness Programme, in partnership with Metropolitan Health, and aim to empower employees to deal with the emotions and anxiety experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; through coping strategies and guidance.
“We often talk about physical wellbeing of people but the mental wellbeing of each and every person is as important. During this difficult time, we are doing all we can to give our staff much needed support. They are the backbone of our health system and community, bringing hope and healing. We have to take care of them together with the public – please wear your mask, social distance and stay home unless you’re out seeking essential services,” urges Deputy Director General: Corporate Services Support, Simon Kaye.