Any experience, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, is never in vain. ForDr Tumi, working at a drug-resistant TB hospital before going into private practice in 2012, has helped him approach risky and highly contagious medical environments with confidence. “That experience really helped because I’m now skilled in conducting myself around infectious patients. Fortunately, I have also done a lot of infectious-disease management over the years,” he explains.
READ MORE: Fatherhood diary with Dr Tumi
Enter the coronavirus pandemic arriving on our shores… While watching reports on the havoc COVID-19 was wreaking in China, Dr Tumi says he hoped that the novel virus wouldn’t strike our continent because we have so much to deal with as is. Between our infrastructure woes, the spatial setting of our communities, unemployment rates and socio-economic issues, he admits to being concerned.
But, as South Africa’s COVID-19 cases rose steadily in March, he knew that being anxious in the background was no longer enough. He decided to volunteer his time at Tembisa Hospital, a selfless act that is also the embodiment of the Bible commandment, “Love thy neighbour as yourself.”
He shares passionately: “I was watching the reports on Italy, and in one of the clips the president was crying because they were battling with containing infections. Having worked in the public sector before, I know how burdensome it can become when the hospital is understaffed. As a doctor, it can be overwhelming and frustrating when you can’t take a break because there, simply, isn’t enough help. Public sector doctors don’t have the luxury of getting a replacement to cover for them when they don’t feel like going to work.”