Photo Credit: Barry Christianson

Doctor Dinell Behari was in the process of specialising in his field of medicine when the pandemic hit South Africa, he and many others have put their educations on hold to save lives.


Cape Town, South Africa (11 August 2020) – Doctor Dinell Behari, Registrar in the Department of Anaesthesia at Groote Schuur hospital shares how he had to pause his education to help save lives. Dr Dinell has been working to specialise but then COVID-19 happened and he refocussed.

Doctor Dinell was interviewed by the Heroes of Groote Schuur Facebook Page about his experience through the pandemic. The Heroes of Groote Schuur – a Facebook page dedicated to our frontline workers – was created to celebrate all those individuals who embody the hospital’s spirit of excellence. From the technicians to the doctors, nurses to night-watchmen, kitchen staff to porters — every single person plays an important role in helping the hospital fulfil its mission of providing quality healthcare for all.

This is Dr Dinell Behari’s story.

“Close to the beginning of the first lockdown, I was asked to join the COVID airway team. It’s a team made up of various people from the Department of Anaesthesia. The team facilitates a lot of training on safely performing high-risk procedures like intubation and tracheotomies. We had to come up with protocols so we could operate in a safe manner in the light of the pandemic. Senior consultants looked at the evidence from overseas and modified our practice to suit our scenario so we could perform these procedures more safely.

We’ve all had our ups and downs and challenges with the pandemic. The biggest challenge for registrars like myself, who are training to be specialists in their various fields, is that our academics have taken a backseat. Some of us work in COVID wards, some of us have to go into ICU – there’s been a big reshuffling of resources that we’re part of. This is a big stressor and has created uncertainty with regards to our academics.

I share a lot of the fears that many of us working here have – I’m scared to bring COVID home to my loved ones, even though I’m doing my best to help people. And if I get sick, I can’t help people.

But at this stage us Groote Schuur staff have found our rhythm – staff members on all levels are more comfortable and confident in their roles and keeping themselves safe. We have become less fearful as we’ve gotten to grips with the pandemic and all the unknowns. The benefit of adequate preparation and training is that it prepares you for the actual situation. We’re less anxious about keeping ourselves safe because we know how to do it and we can focus on the patient.

The biggest thing I’ve gained from this experience is a reappreciation of what our jobs mean as healthcare providers. It’s a reminder that we are not only practising a science but that we are dealing with actual people with families and homes and lives. We are scientists – we practise evidence-based medicine – but nothing prepares you for a mass casualty event like this. So many patients have come in so unwell. It has been heartbreaking to see when they’re diagnosed and require hospital care, and that they can’t be visited. For some of these people, it will be the last time they see their family. That’s something I struggled to deal with.

This experience has made me want to be a better healthcare provider, to provide empathy and compassion. I have seen the fear and anxiety the patients are going through, which is much worse than my fears. This pandemic is a wake up; it brings the patient to the foreground.” – Dr Dinell Behari, Registrar in the Department of Anaesthesia

You can follow Heroes of Groote Schuur here for more inspiring stories.

Source: Heroes of Groote Schuur
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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