4th wave - Hospital Recoveries The youth of South Africa and facing life in a period of COVID-19
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Pandemic looks to be on the wane, with Pietermaritzburg hospital reporting steadily declining COVID-19 patient numbers.


Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (02 October 2020) – Reaching their peak in late-July and early August 2020, Netcare St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg has had a steady decline in the number of patients admitted for COVID-19 since then.

This is according to the general manager of the hospital, Louis Joubert, who reports that since peaking, the number of COVID-19-related patient admissions to the facility has declined by 93%. Netcare’s coastal regional director, Craig Murphy, says that Netcare hospitals throughout the KwaZulu-Natal region have shown similar such declines in COVID-19-related patient numbers.

“We continue to maintain comprehensive COVID-19 precautionary measures in our hospital, and urge the public to also maintain their vigilance at this time and observe all precautions,” adds Joubert.

“The significant decline paved the way for us to safely re-introduce elective surgery and to once again provide specialist services to persons who, during the first stages of lockdown, had to postpone surgeries such as knee replacements and tonsillectomies, and other procedures such as gastrointestinal investigations, amongst many others,” he adds.

“As the manager of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every staff member, doctor and healthcare professional at our facility for the vital role that they have played at the frontline of responding to the pandemic so far,” he added.

“The wonderful team of clinicians, nursing staff, paramedics, cleaning, catering and security service providers, administrative and technical staff, all pulled together and showed their dedication and mettle during this challenging time. They are all heroes.

“We are also delighted at the recovery of one of own, Sr Penny Summersgill, whom we welcomed back to work at our ICU last night after she suffered a severe bout of COVID-19 that laid her low for more than 13 weeks. We had the great privilege of treating Sr Summersgill right here at our facility over a period of 24 days, and we celebrate her return to her duties for which she has always shown the greatest passion and dedication.”

Joubert said that the support that the hospital had received from the Netcare head and coastal regional offices over the pandemic had been outstanding and had enabled the hospital to put in place every possible measure to protect patients, visitors and healthcare workers.

“One trend that we noted over the lockdown was that a number of patients with chronic conditions feared seeking medical attention and did not manage them properly, with the result that their medical conditions subsequently deteriorated.

“We, therefore, urge members of the public to not neglect their health, to consult their doctors and to ensure that they continue to keep their chronic or other acute conditions well managed in consultation with their healthcare practitioners.”

One statistic from the hospital that Joubert finds affirming is the fact that there were slightly more births in the hospital’s popular labour ward than there were COVID-19 cases treated throughout the pandemic.

“I think it is wonderful that we can celebrate helping to bring these new lives into the world over this time, which has been challenging for most South Africans. We thank the parents-to-be for their confidence and trust that they have in the hospital and our staff.”

According to Joubert, Sr Summersgill, who has been an ICU nursing sister at the hospital for 22 years, has the unique perspective of being a member of the hospital’s nursing staff who contracted the virus and was subsequently treated by her own colleagues.

“I am most grateful to have survived the illness and to at last be able to return to work, and once again be able to support my nursing teams at the hospital,” says Sr Summersgill, who was in the hospital under the care of physician Dr Devan Gounder. She spent much of that time on high-flow nasal oxygen.

“Having developed a temperature of 39.7 degrees, I was hospitalised on 20 June and tested positive shorty after that. I was only discharged from Netcare St Anne’s Hospital on 13 July and been able to return to work now, so it has been a long and sometimes scary journey to recovery, in which I battled with shortness of breath, headaches and exhaustion,” she adds.

In a heartfelt letter to her nursing colleagues, while she was recovering at home, Sr Summersgill wrote: “I really have no words other than to express my love, respect and huge admiration to you all. Permanent staff, agency staff, kitchen staff, cleaners, ward staff, theatre staff, agency staff on orientation, laboratory staff and x-ray staff, you all led a charge into waters uncharted.

“I’ve watched you overcome the most amazing battles, working in new areas, learning new skills and, wow you have shown up! You are no doubt tired, yes; sometimes anxious, yes; but you also bravely continued the battle and hats off to you!” she wrote.

“Never once did I feel the need to query my clinical picture: that was Dr Gounder’s work, bless him. Yours was to nurse me, and I never ever felt the need to query that either, you provided me with care in abundance. In my deep, dark days I was carried by you all, my beautiful angels in action and in prayer.

“I keep you and your teams so close in my heart every day. It’s terribly difficult not being where my heart tells me I should be, but give me time, and I’ll be back. In the meantime, continue to fly the hospital’s flag high, and hold your profession and yourselves in high regard always. Your management team has your backs, and this totally humble COVID-free patient has got you in prayer. Thank you all!” she concluded.

Sources: Netcare St Anne’s Hospital
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