Cape Agulhas team steps out of their comfort zone to conquer Covid-19
Cape Agulhas is a smaller sub-district in the Overberg, which means that their staff component is significantly smaller than other sub-districts. For some this could have been a daunting challenge when facing an unknown pandemic, but the Cape Agulhas health team saw this as an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone to explore new and undiscovered talents and skills.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Cape Agulhas contact tracing team were tasked with calling positive patients and tracing their contacts to prevent the virus from spreading further. They went over and above what was required of them, from offering patient support to those in need to assisting at the local quarantine and isolation facilities.
The Cape Agulhas contact tracing team is comprised of the sub-district’s allied health team, interns and volunteers, depending on their availability. They are led by the clinical manager, Dr Johannes Schoevers. According to Dr Schoevers, “this team understood the enormity of the challenge that we faced and stepped out of their comfort zones. During this pandemic some of us stepped out more out than others and I would really like to commend the contact tracing team, they acknowledged that it is not part of their job but did it anyway and did it so well.”
Michelle Hattingh, Nursing Manager at Otto du Plessis Hospital, says what makes them heroes is the way they used their personal strengths to tackle the tasks they were assigned to but still ensured that they worked together as a team. “Since the start they have worked with passion and ran with it even while working under difficult circumstance and everybody did their part.”
Karien van der Nest, Clinical Programme Co-ordinator and member of the contact tracing team says, “we pulled together as a team and made sure to involve the community in our efforts.” No individual or facility in the sub-district was required to take responsibility for fighting the pandemic, everyone stepped in and did their part and assisted wherever possible”.
Lynette Temmers, occupational therapist and member of the contact tracing team adds that they used a multidisciplinary approach, “since we could not practice in our disciplines we used our strengths from our various disciplines and this made an immense difference, from this small group we had various skills and we put it all together”.
The contact tracing team never hesitated to work longer than their official working hours and to come in over the weekends to call their patients. They mention that at times it did get difficult but they continued and worked through it and their families understood. At times they were required to work without electricity due to extensions and maintenance taking place at the facility but they continued without any complaints.
When talking to the team they cannot thank the Cape Agulhas community enough for their endless support, from community members and non-profit organizations to business, other departments and the municipality. “Even though it was a health pandemic there were a lot of social issues involved and that is where a lot of organisations stepped in and got involved and we grateful for this,” says Lynette Temmers. They are also thankful for the patients who adhered to the quarantine and isolation measures, without their cooperation it would have been impossible to decrease the amount of active cases.
From this experience they have learned that they can do so much more when they work as a team and this has enabled them to grow closer to one another and no longer work in isolation. The team is humbled by all the support they have received thus far from their managers and the community and believe that each person in the Cape Agulhas community has a role to play in decline they have seen in the active cases.