WATCH | 'I'm not scared of losing my life' - meet some of Gauteng's 'heroes' on Covid-19 frontline

  • Gauteng's health department honoured healthcare workers, who have displayed high levels of excellence in their respective fields.
  • News24 caught up with some of the recipients on their experiences in the frontline.
  • This comes as Gauteng is expected to reach 120 000 cases by the end of July and 300 000 by the end of August.

The Gauteng Department of Health on Tuesday honoured healthcare workers, who have displayed high levels of excellence in innovation and leadership while serving the people of the province across all healthcare facilities.

"This event is significant for two reasons; the first being that it coincides with the National Corporate Wellness Week as observed by the National Department of Health and, secondly, it takes place during the context of a global pandemic that has not only taken away the lives of many – leaving families without mothers, fathers and children – but has also taken a toll on healthcare workers across the world," MEC of Health Bandile Masuku said in his address in Midrand.

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As of Monday, 6 July, Gauteng had a total of 63 404 cases, with 18 585 recoveries and 353 deaths.

Masuku is expecting the province to register around 120 000 cases by the end of July, spiking to 300 000 by the end of August.

Healthcare workers will be in the frontline, managing the virus in a health system that is already feeling the pressure, according to the MEC.

READ | Covid-19: 'It'll be overcrowded in hospitals' - Gauteng MEC predicts 300 000 cases by end of August

But how are the nurses, doctors and other frontline staff coping during the early stages of what has been dubbed the "Covid-19 storm", in a province expected to be the country's next hotspot in the coming weeks?

We work so hard that we sometimes cannot eat the whole day – Nurse

Elizabeth Lebese, a nurse at Jubilee Hospital, told News24 that it's become so busy in hospitals that she sometimes does not eat for an entire day.

"I do not know what to say, it is hectic, it's problematic. We are working hard and we are trying, we are working with difficult patients.

Sometimes, you have to work without food the whole day. At first, I was scared, but now I have told myself I am a soldier - I must go and work, and fight this virus.
Elizabeth Lebese

Lebese added that the most painful part of her work is seeing patients succumb to the illness as these are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of families.

"I am not scared of losing my life. I told myself that I am going to fight this. We are not alone, we are a team. We will fight this," she concluded.

We are more worried about our family members than ourselves – Emergency physician

An emergency physician at the highly specialised Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Dr Jana du Plessis, told News24 that healthcare workers are more worried about their family members.

"All of our staff have really adapted well and come to the table. I am sure everybody is anxious for their family members. A lot of our staff have children and elderly parents that they can't see at the moment. Most of us are more worried about our families than ourselves."

Du Plessis added that the emergency department has two sections - respiratory and non-respiratory - in order to protect patients and staff, who are part of its Covid-19 contingency plans in managing the virus.

It is scary, it is something we cannot get used to - Health and Wellness practitioner

Employee Health and Wellness practitioner at Kopanaong Hospital, Simphiwe Nkosi, told News24 that she looks forward to going to work every day, but it is still scary.

"If only we could see Covid, then we could avoid it - but we can't.

"It is scary, we have started peaking. It is something we cannot get used to because there is something new on a daily basis and there are still fatalities," she said.

Nkosi added that she was fearful of exposing her son, who is only 18 months old, to the virus - due to her work environment.

I'm fearful when I come home – my son is very affectionate, but I have to keep him away and not allow him to touch me. Our lives are now a routine of constant disinfecting.
Simphiwe Nkosi

I wish people can come and see how sick people are, it is so disheartening – CEO, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

The chief executive at the highly specialised Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Gladys Bogoshi, said she wished that members of the public could get a glimpse of how sick patients actually are at the health facility.

"Yesterday, we were talking about how we wish people can come and see how sick people are; it is disheartening. It is really not nice to see people who have difficulty in breathing when they come in.

"It is disheartening to see older people who are coming in and they can't breathe, and you can see that these people are very sick," she said.

Bogoshi added that the hospital was dealing with patients needing varying care and suffering from a range of ailments, in addition to those fighting Covid-19.

"Over and above, the hospital is still running. We are still delivering about 800 babies a month; we are still seeing other patients; we are still seeing our cancer patients, so the very same resources that see Covid must still see the normal patients coming to the hospital," she said.

Dr Jana Du Plessis, Emergency physician
Dr Jana Du Plessis, Emergency physician
Gladys Bogoshi, CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital
Gladys Bogoshi, CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital
Simphiwe Nkosi, Health and Wellness practitioner
Simphiwe Nkosi, Health and Wellness practitioner
A nurse at Jubilee Hospital, Elizabeth Lebese
A nurse at Jubilee Hospital, Elizabeth Lebese on the far left .

These four healthcare workers were included in the 13 public sector employees, who were recognised by Masuku for demonstrating excellence and going the extra mile in their respective areas of work.

It is part of the MEC's Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Programme, which seeks to boost staff morale among dedicated employees, who continue to play a critical role in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

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