In Practice

A collaborative and evolving response to the needs of frontline workers, patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic at Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape Province, South Africa

E Bröcker, K A Louw, M Hewett, H Burger, R Felix, P De Koker, J Rossouw, S Seedat

Abstract


The global devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its mental health impact is undeniable. The physical and psychological consequences are wide-ranging – affecting patients fighting the disease, frontline workers in the trenches with them, healthcare staff deployed in high-care settings, and families disconnected from their loved ones in their darkest hours. Within 6 weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa, the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University established the TBH/SU COVID Resiliency Clinic to provide psychological support to frontline workers at Tygerberg Hospital. Identified barriers in healthcare workers accessing mental healthcare resulted in moving towards an on-site visibility to try to remove some of these barriers. This greater on-site presence enabled networking and building of relationships with frontline staff that over time highlighted other frontline needs, such as providing psychosocial and spiritual support to patients and their families. We share challenges, lessons learned and recommendations from two initiatives: the TBH/SU COVID-19 Resiliency Clinic, and an embedded COVID Care Team (CCT). We describe the establishment, roll-out and progress of the Clinic and the subsequent CCT.


Authors' affiliations

E Bröcker, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

K A Louw, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

M Hewett, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

H Burger, Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of Medical Imaging and Clinical Oncology, Tygerberg Academic Hospital and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.

R Felix, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

P De Koker, Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa.

J Rossouw, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

S Seedat, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

COVID-19; Frontline workers; Patients; Western Cape; South Africa; Healthcare delivery

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 0;0(0):.

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-03-23
Date published: 2021-03-23

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