For exhausted health workers, this festive season will be brutal

Barely able to catch a break before the country plunged into its second wave of Covid-19 infections, health-care workers will experience a very different kind of festive season.

“I was crying that for the first time I won’t be with my family in the Eastern Cape but we understood very well that it was crucial that they be safe in their corners,” said the head of clinical medicine at Thembisa hospital, Dr Portia Ngwata.

The 43-year-old gastroenterologist, who is married with two children, will be spending her Christmas working because of the pandemic.

“The body has adjusted to the workload that is needed and the fatigue is better than when we started. We have more teamwork than before, we have more hands than before, and more infrastructure.

“This second wave was expected, so the preparation was a bit better but it is a new variant so we are not out of the woods yet.”

Ngwata earlier said she was considering leaving the profession after the pandemic.

“When it’s all over I would have conquered it, but I will be finished. I would need a brain wash, to be taken somewhere else,” said Ngwata. “We’re losing our colleagues. We have more than 40 doctors who have died in SA, some we knew personally, but we have to go back to work and see Covid.”

Ngwata said it now takes a special effort to spend time with her children.

“There is still so little time with my family. I am either at work or on the phone because of work — but I think they have adjusted.”

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