Every day, news organisations report the increasing number of people infected with COVID-19, as well as of those who have lost their lives to the virus. Throughout this tragedy, some people continually place themselves at risk of getting infected, all to ensure that we have everything we need, from food and medication to a functional healthcare force. We applaud them for their courage and selflessness.
Here are the experiences of two women who continue to soldier on in the healthcare system – Dr Zintle Toyi who works at a government hospital and Jessica Leteba, a nurse at a private institution.
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How do you feel?
Dr Toyi: I still love my job, but now I find myself worrying: What if I get COVID-19? What if I infect my patients or child? And, with the shortage of protective gear, you almost feel as though this isn’t an honour. But, somehow the work gets done.
Leteba: It is scary. Being a “hero”, as people refer to us lately, is the last thing on my mind. Not a day goes by that I am not scared – from the moment I get into a taxi to entering the hospital. What’s even more sad is that it all ends at being called a hero.
What experiences do you have to share?
Dr Toyi: We currently don’t have cases in the hospital where I work. But, we’ve had scares. The environment is very tense. Our normal work routines have been greatly disrupted.
Leteba: We have started admitting patients suspected of having COVID-19, but we don’t have any confirmed cases yet. A suspected case was admitted in my ward for the first time, and it was terrifying. But, we quarantine the patients and do everything we can for them.
Words to the nation
Dr Toyi: For us, this is work. But, it comes with an underlying anxiety and over-compensation of spraying your hands every five minutes.
Leteba: It is terrifying, but my purpose is to help people, so I have to keep going.