Giving comfort to patients

2016-05-03 06:00

For some patients at False Bay Hospital, a cup of tea and a biscuit will be the only thing they have to eat and drink while waiting to see a doctor.

This is why the False Bay Hospital Association runs an outreach for patients, offering them the small comfort of a cup of tea after a long morning of waiting to receive health care.

The association, started in 1950 to serve patients and staff at the hospital, is run by volunteers and raises funds to meet the hospital’s needs.

Working closely with the hospital board, the association looks at what the hospital needs and what is not provided by the government. These are the cracks it aims to fill, says chairperson Des Read.

Comfort to patientsThe association has over the years donated or sourced items such as a foetal monitor, defibrillator, ECG machines, sonar scanners and laser thermometers.

“We also try to make the staff more comfortable,” he says. “We installed a braai area for the staff and did up the doctor’s restrooms.”

But a large part of the association’s work is providing some small comfort to patients. They distribute comfort packs to each ward – consisting of basic items such as soap and facecloths, which some patients don’t even have – and contribute to the patient’s travel fund.

Volunteers also distribute tea and biscuits to patients, many of whom have been waiting at the hospital since 06:00.

“It’s all some patients have for that day,” says volunteer Nicola Retief. “It’s remarkable to see the absolute delight from patients when we offer them that cup of tea.”

Rewards in givingBut dwindling numbers of volunteers are making it a challenge to keep providing this service, says Sarie Naude, another volunteer.

“I used to work in healthcare and when I stopped working I felt like nobody needed me anymore. That’s when I started volunteering. People are so thankful for that cup of tea – that’s my reward.”

Retief is calling for more volunteers, of all age groups. A stay-at-home mom, Retief says mothers who don’t work are welcome to give back to the community through the association.

“When you do something for someone else, you realise how blessed you are. It’s a small way to make a difference. It changes your heart,” she says.

Retief has even brought her children along to help, teaching them the value of giving to others.

“I’ve brought my children with and they’ve handed out biscuits. You can’t always give money, but you can give time.”

The association also welcomes donations of tea supplies.V For more information or to get involved, contact Nicola Retief on 082 456 6513.

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