Frontline heroes: 7 inspiring South African healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus

Ijeoma, Clarice, Goloka and Morenike. (Photo: Supplied)
Ijeoma, Clarice, Goloka and Morenike. (Photo: Supplied)

While we’re keeping safe at home, surrounded by our loved ones and keeping entertained, thousands of healthcare workers are forced to leave their families every day.

As we fight the pandemic from our homes – by sticking to the lockdown laws set in place – these selfless workers are fighting on the frontline.

Meet the brave women who are confronted with the coronavirus daily.

Clarice Geduld – locum pharmacist and full-time medical student

Clarice (32) says Covid-19 has increased their pharmacy’s sales in flu medication, so much so they had to call in extra staff, although there’s been dramatically less feet moving through the pharmacy.

“As a result, the trading hours were lessened and there are less shifts available for locums. My weekend shifts were cancelled until further notice.”

She says they’re at risk of contracting the virus every day due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“The pharmacy I work at has since installed Covid-19 protective screens at each computer, giving us viro-visors face protection and face masks.”

The pandemic has taught her not to take anything for granted.

“I should hug my family a little longer this time around after we’re free! We should learn to be grateful for our health and that we could have enough to eat during the lockdown period.”

Clarice Geduld

Morenike Adelaja – pharmacist

The most challenging part for Morenike (24) has been her inability to interact with patients like she used to.

“I now have to execute my role as a healthcare professional with restrictions such as social distancing when dispensing, less movement from room to room in the clinic and therefore reduced interactions with other healthcare professionals.”

Regular prayer, music and dancing has helped her cope with the mental toll the pandemic has taken on her.

Her advice to South Africans is simple: “Pray. And if you’re not religious, meditate. Stay at home, wash your hands and don’t forget to smile.”

Morenike Adelaja

Ntombizodowa Thula – occupational health nurse

Since the start of the lockdown, Ntombizodowa’s workload has become much heavier.

“We had to develop new standard operating procedures and conduct virtual meetings that required quick technological adjustments,” Ntombizodowa (60) says.

“We also had to implement health education and get extra facilities for isolation.”

She and her family have been taking extra precautions, especially since she’s faced with the possibility of infection daily.

“We stay home after work, taking immune boosters and staying positive by reading uplifting Bible scriptures.”

She urges South Africans to sacrifice their rights for a while for a greater good.

Ntombizodowa Thula

Ijeoma Chinonyerem Adams – pharmacist

Ijeoma (23) is passionate about educating people about the importance of social distancing during this time.

“Our country is currently on a lockdown; however people are still on the move,” she says. “More and more motorists are found on the streets. People are still going on visits. Collectively, we all have a role in curbing this disease.”

To her the nationwide lockdown isn’t all doom and gloom. She chooses to focus on the silver lining.

“Something positive I’d take out of this would be the growth that I’m experiencing, away from the buzzing life of a social space.

“People are cultivating new habits and a lot of self-discovery is being made.”

Ijeoma also takes heart from the unity displayed by South Africans.

“Race, culture, ethnic background and social status suddenly don’t matter any longer. We’re all fighting the same battle. This is something that would go down in history.”

Ijeoma Chinonyerem Adams

Goloka Mabusela – community service professional nurse (theatre department)

Goloka’s job makes her especially vulnerable.

“I currently work in the operating theatre, so one of the anaesthetic methods we use requires intubation,” the 24-year-old explains.

“The anaesthetic doctor needs to get very close to the patient so they can do it and is exposed. As the anaesthetic nurse, assisting the doctor also exposes you.”

This is why she ensures she disinfects herself before entering her home.

“There’s a basket, hand rub and alcohol sanitiser at my door. Before I enter the house, I need to change and sanitise.”

She, too, is focused on the positivity the virus has brought.

“People are really starting to take care of themselves.

“We’ve been giving health education about the cough etiquette and hand washing for so long but for some reason people just wouldn’t adhere.

“At least now people know the seriousness of taking care of themselves as there are many infectious diseases out there.”

Goloka Mabusela

Olebogeng Masemola – professional nurse (emergency unit)

Protecting herself physically and emotionally while prioritising the patient’s health has been challenging for Olebogeng (24).

“I constantly remind myself that my impact is important and that I’m serving a greater need for a greater purpose.”

Olebogeng has chosen to self-isolate. She washes her laundry separate from her family’s and takes calcium supplements to boost her immune system.

She also ensures she eats healthily and always stays hydrated.

“I limit the time spent on social media and watching TV to avoid fuelling negative energy.”

The pandemic has taught her the value of teamwork.

“Fuelling your faith also helps with decreasing your fear,” she says.

“I’ve been reminded of my calling as a nurse. I’m able to put into practice the words in my pledge and see hope in peopl’s eyes when I have educated them about the virus.”

Olebogeng Masemola

Sarbatini Mokobokoa– carer at an old age home

Getting to work has often proved difficult for Sarbatini (25) as lockdown regulations have placed restrictions on public transport.

But she’s grateful for the gratitude people have shown towards healthcare workers.

Sarbatini says she’s been taking vitamins to ensure her immune system stays strong and drinks a mixture of honey, lemon, ginger and garlic at least once a day.

She urges South Africans to abide by the law: “Follow all guidelines given by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Zweli Mkhize. Please stay home for those of us who can’t.”

Sarbatini Mokobokoa

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