Issued from the Groote Schuur Hospital Facility Board
Date 21st August 2021, 1300
Re: Disrespectful and attacking comments made towards our staff
As the entrusted and elected community representatives on the Groote Schuur Hospital Facility Board, we distance ourselves from all the utterances made by a small group of community members who have gathered at the hospital today.
While the crux of their gripe focuses on anti vaccination sentiments, they have taken aim and attacked our valued staff in a manner that is deeply disrespectful, accusatory , humiliating and demoralizing.
Labelling this hospital who has treated thousands of patients, COVID and non COVID- a ‘gas chamber’ and blatantly accused our staff of killing patients is deeply disturbing and unacceptable. You do not represent the views of the broader community. This isolated group of individuals clearly have no regard for the more than 1000 personnel who were infected in the line of duty and the 20 staff members who have died of COVID 19, caring for community members in this hospital. You have forgotten about them, the families and loved ones they have left behind and the ultimate price they paid for their sacrifice on the front line caring for the loved ones of others. Your insensitivity and purported concern for life and livelihoods is deeply disappointing.
While you do have a right to choose to vaccinate or not, your further utterances denying the existence of COVID 19 are a direct indictment on the very patients with COVID 19, we are caring for today. There are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who are fighting for their lives while you dismiss their pain and suffering and label them.
We take this opportunity to thank the broader community who have rallied behind our staff at this difficult time and provided support in many different ways. At the peak of a third wave, we have hundreds of patients we are caring for and this strain on the hospital comes at a time when are staff are really digging deep to deliver the best possible care they can. It’s been the most challenging time- physically, emotionally, psychologically in this history of the hospital and your warm words of encouragement, small gifts and public praise is what’s keeping our staff motivated.
As members of the board of the hospital, we want every staff member of the hospital be they a nurse , cleaner, doctor, administrator, technician, allied health specialist and manager at Groote Schuur Hospital to know- the views of these few protesters do not represent the community of Cape Town. We want you to know that we have received many, many compliments by community members and leaders over the last 18 months acknowledging the wonderful work you are doing and your incredible and unfading commitment. We see you. We acknowledge you. We thank you.
We will be organising a special way to thank you in the coming weeks and ask members of the community to join us on this initiative to celebrate our hospital heroes and add your voice to keeping the legacy of Groote Schuur alive!
Members of the Groote Schuur Hospital Board
Chair: Reverend Magadla
Deputy Chair : Mr Hassan Kajie
Contact for media queries Dr Zameer Brey( 0844224422), Dr Itumeleng Ntatamala( 0760721130)
Response from an Obs resident:
It’s disgraceful and plain stupid to attack nurses and hospital stuff over this 🤬
A friend of mine is in recovery of covid … day 39. She just sent out a long update which shows that while it can be just another flu for some who get of lucky , it can be a struggle for life incident for others. And until you have it you don’t know how you will react to the virus. My friend is 43 and has no comorbidities for those who like to read it …. 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
COVID Update Day 38 – a bit of a read and a photo dump
I have had a lot of people asking me how I am doing and also to hear that I am better, so I thought I would do a little update for everyone on how truly horrible this little virus is. To start, I want to say that I am truly grateful that I have even made it to Day 38 as so many others didn’t and I really am better off than others I know who had it worse than I did.
The docs did tell us that Days 10 – 14 are the turning point in this journey and we saw that first hand, Chris felt so much better and I took a turn for the worse.
My Day 12 was on Sunday 25th July and I had already had 4 cortisone drips with my doc by that stage and it was also the first day that I ended up on oxygen. I got an oxygen concentrator from a dear friend and back up oxygen cylinder from another dear friend which, unfortunately, wasn’t full but had about a half a tank. I just couldn’t get my sats above 85 on the concentrator, I when I popped to the loo (the en-suite in our bedroom) my sats dropped to 77.
At around 2am, I work up battling to breath and had been told that sleeping on your tummy is supposed to help so I moved from my sitting/sleeping position and tried to flip over which pushed me over the edge. Sats dropped to 70 and I started turning blue (Chris told me this much later) so obviously I panicked but I went on the oxygen cylinder to recover bearing in mind that we needed to oxygen to get me to the doc in the morning so we had to use it sparingly. Chris and I then stayed up the whole night watching The Office just to make it to the morning without any more hiccups and my docs appointment at 9:30am.
At 6am, I asked my neighbourhood if anyone had spare oxygen and we got another concentrator which seemed to be a bit more powerful and got my sats up to 95. At 7:30am I told Chris that we needed to go to the doc early and just get on actual oxygen so off we went. It was the first time I saw the panic in Chris’ face and I remember telling him to leave the room because he was going to make me cry which wouldn’t have helped the breathing situation.
Doc ordered X-rays and I enjoyed some high flow O2 but the chest didn’t look good. Doc told Chris to get me straight to casualty and he wasn’t sure if I would be admitted to a ward or ICU (another fact he kept from me). We headed from Randburg Medicross to Wilgeheuwal Hospital with the remaining O2 cylinder hoping that it would last trip and worried what would happen if it didn’t. It did, thankfully. But when I got to casualty, they took me off the oxygen because they needed to do an arterial blood gas test to see how my body was processing the oxygen. This meant that I had to be off O2 for 10 mins for a proper test. This may have been the longest ten minutes of my life, I closed my eyes and just concentrated on breathing and not panicking. I was poked and prodded and eventually admitted to the COVID ward on nasal cannula because they thought that was the O2 I needed.
This is when the days start to get fuzzy so instead of doing a day by day, I’m going to share in general what happens in the COVID ward.
The COVID Ward
What happens in the COVID ward is enough to scare you into isolation.
I was the only person in my room of 4 who was there purely for COVID. My long-term roomie was an 80 yo “Duckie” who was having breast cancer treatment who ended up testing positive. “Chatty/Batty” was in her 60/70s who was battling with her fibromyalgia who tested positive. 70 yo “Sweety” couldn’t speak English so needed a translator so I know everything about her, was an previous TB patient who tested positive. Then my last 92 yo roomie “Batty #2” had a fall and hurt her back but tested positive. I really was in the geriatric ward LOL. It was then that I realized that the docs aren’t just treating COVID in these wards, they have to treat all kinds of illnesses and injuries on top of the virus!!
The nurses are the true heroes.
They are tired but they carry on.
They deal with the crazy.
They deal with the heartache.
Duckie cried everyday because she wanted to go home. She didn’t want to eat and was bed bound because of a catheter. She also didn’t have the joy of video calling her family because she had an old phone.
Chatty became Batty because she refused to keep her oxygen on. She started to lose her mind. Oxygen starvation is serious and I watched for a very frustrating 30 mins while she took off her top and put on another one over her oxygen and her drip. She got stuck and had to try it again and again. She kept taking her oxygen off and wandering around to go to the bathroom (Side note: when you need to go to the loo, you call the nurse, they bring a walker with oxygen and you can get there without being compromised). They eventually put a catheter in her to try and keep her in her bed. Once again she went wandering off without any bottoms or knickers on and the nurses found her in the bathroom after she had removed her own catheter and drip. They eventually moved her so the nurses could keep a stronger watch over her. Turns out she ended up in high care.
There was a lady who passed away overnight in another room. The nurses found her with her mask on her forehead. Another one who just wouldn’t stay on her oxygen.
Sweety got moved. Probably best for her own sanity.
Batty #2 came and left within 3 hours because she wouldn’t stay in her bed either. One of the nurses had to sit guard over her at the door to our room. Luckily, I had a You Magazine to keep her busy with she played prison guard.
My COVID Ward Experience
I stopped taking calls and tried to stay off my phone as much as possible for my own sanity. On Day 1 or 2, I was on a video call with friends who had just gone through their own COVID journey and I started crying which obviously compromised my breathing. Luckily my doc had just arrived and took me off nasal cannula, on a high flow mask (10lpm) and prescribed Urbanol for anxiety. I’m still on it.
The cortisone drips collapsed my veins so the daily blood draws became problematic (besides that they did them at 3am everyday) so they started taking arterial bloods. Those wake you up properly as they are extremely painful. The cortisone also elevated my sugar levels so I was on insulin injections in tummy throughout the day. Then there were the blood thinner injections in the tummy during the day, too. I had become a pin cushion. The nurses take vitals hourly; sats, BP, pulse and sugar levels so my fingers were a mess. Thanks to the blood thinners, I was one big bruise.
I was on oxygen 24/7, plugged into the wall except for when I went to the bathroom when I was on 15lpm on my walker. The bathroom was right next to my bed but it took me ten minutes each time. No waiting until the last minute for me. But it was better than the bed pan they offered to bring me… thanks but I was going to brave the walk rather.
I eventually got weaned off the oxygen mask by the Thursday (I think) and the nasal cannula does make it easier to eat and drink. I came off full oxygen by the Sunday, my day 7 in hospital. By this stage, I had taken to closing my curtain and hiding from the crazies in my ward.
The hardest thing about being in the COVID ward is you don’t see anyone. No visitors. Our window opened into a parking and delivery area so we had no natural light and no one was allowed to come to the window. You can’t touch anyone and when the nurses and physios pop in, your finally get to have human touch. Luckily, family and friends can drop off bags of stuff for you and it is like Xmas everyday.
My first shower was on the Thursday and I felt like a new person, I washed my hair and just enjoyed not being in the same clothes I had been in for 5 days. It took me 30 mins and I sat on a chair in the shower. I’m surprised they didn’t send out a search party!
I also forgot what hospital is like; you can’t rest. Bloods at 3am, start hourly vitals at 5am, tea at 5:30am, docs start coming in from 10am, physios anytime, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, snacks…. It just goes on and on.
Post Hospital and Recovery
I have been home now for almost 3 weeks. My doc wanted me to isolate for 10 days when I got home and we think it may have been to slow me down because I haven’t been contagious since Day 10. He also put me on bed rest for two weeks and I understood why when I was a passenger during the school run. I was totally finished just by sitting.
I couldn’t walk around the house and spent 99% of my time in bed. It felt like I was on a boat constantly (anyone who has cruised will know the land legs feeling). My sats would drop to below 90 every time I got up so I just slept and watched TV. Oh and ate because COVID recovery means eating everything! I still can’t taste properly so I add chili to everything but I rediscovered my love for tea and rusks thanks to the hospital.
This week was the first time I ventured out properly and of course I overdid it! I spent the day walking around doing random things VERY SLOWLY. My beloved friend said that I walk slower than her old mum with a gammy knee. I take a walking stick with me because there isn’t always somewhere to hang on to if you get a wobble, and if you are exhausted. My sats dropped to about 89 (I take my Oximeter with me) and I was exhausted the next day. I still use the oxygen concentrator from time to time to help with the boost especially to help with the headaches.
I have had visitors but I have also left them with Chris and went to bed.
I don’t trust myself to drive because I don’t think my reaction time is good enough in case of an emergency.
COVID brain is also a thing. I can’t string a sentence together on a good day, I don’t remember what I went to another room for, I forget the most basic things. It’s like preggy brain on steroids.
This is a horrible virus and I can’t believe it has been 39 days! I still take painkillers daily because I hurt along with all the other pills I have to take. I can’t walk around the house or to the driveway without holding on to the walls.
For anyone who says that this is a bad flu, well done because you got off lightly.
I’m not sure what the long term effects will be from this, but I’m not better yet. Not even close. But day by day it slowly gets better.
Big thanks to all of you who were there to support me and my family and who are still there…. I love you all!
(Also sorry for the long post but I also think this has been quite cathartic for me to do)