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CPO honours frontline workers

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The CPO held a concert of gratitude for front line workers. PHOTO: KAYLYNNE BANTOM
The CPO held a concert of gratitude for front line workers. PHOTO: KAYLYNNE BANTOM

A quote by Debasish Mridha reads: “Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.”

This is what the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) hoped to achieve when they held a gratitude concert for health care workers at Groote Schuur Hospital on Wednesday 15 September.

Since March last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit South African shores, frontline workers have been working tirelessly to help save lives, and the CPO expressed their appreciation during an outdoor lunch-hour concert.

Louis Heyneman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CPO, says the concert was their way of saying thank you.

“We see you, we hear you, we admire you and we honour you. Without the hard work of medical workers all over the world, we would have suffered so much more and this is a small way for us to say thank you to medical workers all over the world and what better way to say this in front of this historic hospital.”

Sister Patricia Bailey, operational manager of ward E7 (neurology), says she has always wanted to attend a show by the CPO and now she got a front row seat while on duty.

“We are highly appreciative of this. I brought a couple of nurses outside as well, just to come and see the appreciation for us. We’ve been here since March last year, since Covid-19 started, we’ve been quite busy.”

Sister Dhelia van Kesteren, clinical facilitator in the trauma and emergency unit, says: “I feel ecstatic about it. I wish more of the staff could come to listen to this, because it was very relaxing and it distressed me.”

Van Kesteren says the past 18 months have been challenging.

“We have been extremely busy, especially when the first, second and third wave came. The staff are stressed and strained about having to work overtime. We are short staffed so some staff work overtime so that we can nurse our patients sufficiently.”

She says while they are seeing a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases in the trauma and emergency unit, people are still urged to get vaccinated.

Khilona Radia, co-founder of the Hospital Heroes programme, says the harmonious tunes played by the orchestra were “food for the soul”.

Dr Bhavna Patel, (CEO) at Groote Schuur Hospital, says the hospital has been “extremely busy” the past few months.

“Almost half of our patient beds have been filled with Covid-19 patients. We had on certain days up to 47 patients on ventilators, on other days we had up to 50 patients on high-flow nasal oxygen. And the remainder of the patients we treated in the wards, and at the same time we still had to treat other patients given that it was now the flu season.”

Patel says they are appreciative of the event as staff have been under pressure.

“I am really pleased that the CPO was able to do this. The staff were extremely stretched and the staff just came out of a busy second wave, went through the vaccination drive and then had to attend to patients in the third wave, so they haven’t had a chance to rest. Our staff are really tired. They have been working non-stop.”

She says they are seeing a decrease in Covid-19 patients being admitted.

“We had on average of 350 to 400 patients on a single day. At the moment we have 143 patients in our hospital with Covid-19.”

Patel says it is vital that people get vaccinated as it will lessen their chance of being hospitalised.

“It’s not going to prevent you from getting Covid-19, but it will protect you from being hospitalised and from death and from severe diseases. This is what we’ve seen in this hospital where many of the patients that were admitted now in the third wave didn’t yet have a chance to get vaccinated or opted not to get vaccinated and we can now only through our experience encourage everybody to get vaccinated.”

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, provincial health minister, who also attended the concert, thanked the CPO for acknowledging the work done by frontline workers.

“Groote Schuur is one of the hospitals, not only in the Western Cape, but also in the country that has to bear the burden of managing Covid-19 because it is also a specialist hospital. The health care workers have been there throughout since March last year. Music does not only go to your ears but also to the soul, so it was not only benefitting the health care workers but also the patients that are here,” she said.

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