COVID-19 survivor chooses volunteerism & hope to beat pandemic
Beaunez Coerecius, a home-based and spiritual carer at the Brackengate Hospital of Hope, has experienced the devastating effects of COVID-19 first-hand, but her experience inspired her to make a difference in the lives of others.
Soon after hearing about her COVID-19 positive test results, her husband had a stroke. She describes this period as “difficult”.
“I was working at Eerste River Hospital at the time when I got sick. I started sneezing and the sister said I should get tested. I received positive results, but I kept calm. My husband fell ill and had a mini stroke, it was a hard and difficult time for my family. My husband survived his stroke and I have survived COVID-19. We are so grateful to be alive.”
After her recovery, the healthcare worker heard about the opening of the Brackengate Hospital of Hope in July 2020. While she was aware of the risks of volunteering during a pandemic, the 52-year-old says she could not sit back and do nothing.
“I got a second chance at life after having COVID-19. I decided that I wanted to make a difference and help others like me. I have always had a passion for healthcare. I have provided palliative care support and HIV counselling in the past and assisted a local NGO with COVID-19 screening in February last year. I am also a trained home-based carer. I was curious about COVID-19 and how I could help.”
The Oudsthoorn local, who now lives in Strand, started working at Brackengate Hospital of Hope in August 2020. Her day starts at 7am. After praying and putting on her PPE, she gets her trolley ready and makes her way through the hospital’s wards, where she helps several ill patients every day.
“I start by washing our patients, many patients are too ill to do this themselves. After they are washed, I feed them. I also assist the patients who need help with turning in bed as some are unable to. I ensure that I encourage our patients. I know from experience that having the virus can be challenging. It’s important for us to encourage them. Their families can’t physically be there with them… it’s really hard on them, so we take up that role of family to provide support.
“I massage their feet and rub their hands. I had a patient who called me “Mauritius” which sounds like my surname. I remember coming into work and she’d say, ‘Oh, Mauritius, I heard your voice, I am so happy you are here.’”
Volunteering at the hospital has given Beaunez a sense of hope.
“As a healthcare worker, I am walking this journey with the patients and their families. The weekends often feel like they’re dragging when I am home, and I wonder about my patients, but I am happy when I return to find that they are still fighting the virus with us, and I am always happy when they are reunited with their families.”
While she often feels tired, the healthcare worker says she is inspired by her team at the Hospital of Hope.
“The staff inspires me, from our doctors to our cleaners. They treat each other with so much respect and they treat our patients with love and care. And seeing patients recover and getting better also makes me happy. I have a heart for helping others. To do this job, you need to have empathy. You need to care about people. You need to be patient and kind.”
While she’s worked in the health sector for over 10 years, Beaunez describes the COVID-19 pandemic “like nothing she’s ever seen before”. She has reminded the public that “it’s not a joke”.
“COVID-19 is not a joke, this virus is real and we need to remember that every day. Our hospitals have always had sick patients, but these days it feels like each family has someone or knows someone in hospital with COVID-19. I have never seen so many ill people in my life. I pray and I have faith that we will overcome this virus.”
Her greatest wish is for the world to overcome this virus and she hopes that by doing her part to care for the frail and ill, she can make a difference. She has also called on residents to do their part.
“Remember, you can make a difference too. You can volunteer too. But there are other ways you can help us fight the virus. Wear your mask, stay home when you are sick or have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting your results. Remember to wash your hands regularly. Don’t attend parties or social gatherings and remember to keep a distance of 1.5 m from others. All of us have a role to play to beat this virus, we can get through this. We want the pandemic to pass and we want to keep our loved ones safe, we want our economy to recover, so we need to do our part. Help us do this.”
The Western Cape Government Health thanks all healthcare workers and volunteers who are on the frontlines around the clock to keep our communities safe.
*Learn how you can get involved and volunteer by visiting our website at coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/volunteer-recruitment-questionnaire
Department of Health
Western Cape Government
Office: 021 815 8885
Cell: 081 342 6687