Ready for lockdown

Rabi Mxolisi, from Beacon Valley, speaks to nursing sister Sharon Simmery outside Mitchells Plain Community Health Care Centre.

Mitchell’s Plain health facilities are ready for lockdown, they have de-escalating services, clamping down on people accessing the district hospital and re-arranging wards for the possible intake of Covid-19 positive patients.

Their community based service teams, including a professional nurse, clinical nurse, rehabilitation staff and a range of community health workers, who provide several different services have been working around the clock to inform frail, elderly and disabled patients about the disease in the comfort of their homes. 

They will also deliver chronic medication to patients’ homes, who are on the facility’s system, as from Thursday March 26.

Since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s initial announcement that the country is in a state of disaster on Sunday March 15 – heads of Klipfontein/Mitchell’s Plain substructure’s primary health care facilities, like the clinics, community health centres also known as day hospitals, Maternity Obstetric Units (MOU) and community based services have been meeting daily for the eventuality of lockdown.

Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital medical specialist Dr Clint Hendrikse told the Plainsman on Thursday March 19 that measures were put into place to stop the spread of the virus and to protect patients, staff and the community.

“The aim of what we are doing and have been doing is to minimise the spread of this virus. And how to do that is by social distancing, when people are together, when people are in groups that is when this usually spreads. 

“We want to promote social distancing as the president has said not to have more than 100 people together.

“This is something that is necessary and is there to protect the community and the staff.”

He said that in a pandemic if there was no control in one area, it could easily spread to a different area.

Dr Hendrikse said emergency services and care would not be compromised even in the worst of circumstances. 

“Any acute care will be available to patients all of the time. We are de-escalating the non-essential surgery and clinics to protect the community – the non-emergency services,” he said.

Dr Jacek Marszalek, Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital medical manager, said non-essential surgeries and services have been put on hold and that wards and theatre spaces have been rearranged to make space for possible Covid-19 positive patients.

“We are doing the changes in the hospital to increase capacity for patients. Creating different spaces to increase capacity to take in patients with suspected disease. Termination of pregnancy (TOP) services have been moved from ground floor to the first floor – for additional case load,” said Dr Marszalek.

Sister Zethu Xapile, for Klipfontein/Mitchell’s Plain substructure’s primary health care manager, said they would be taking services out of the facility and into community halls.

“We’ve made arrangements with the City of Cape Town to use the halls to prevent patients from coming to the facilities, which are at high risk of infection.”

She said patients could collect their medication packs, complete eye-screenings and have disability grant assessments done at these offsite centres.

They will only be doing emergency oral health care cases. Lentegeur civic centre will be an offsite centre for oral emergency services. 

“Patients should not be alarmed when they see the dental staff in their protective gear as it is a necessary precaution.”

Hanover Park civic centre at the back of the facility

Dr Abdurahman Day Hospital patients will go to Build a Better Society (BABS) in Aster Road Kewtown; Heideveld community health centre (CHC) patients will go to a container just outside of the facility; Nyanga (CHC) patients will be referred to Zolani Sport and Recreation Centre, in Terminus Rd Nyanga; Gugulethu patients can go across the road to Masiphumelele school; Crossroads patients will go to a community hall opposite the facility; Browns Farm (Inzame Zabantu) Community Health Centre will go to Ruth First; and Mitchell’s Plain health staff will be assisting patients in a tent outside of the facility.

Fatima Peters, health programmes deputy director, said they work closely with non-government organisations (NGOs), who rendered services at patients’ homes.

The organisations receiving funding from the government include Cape Flats YMCA takes care of Mitchell’s Plain, including Beacon Valley, Eastridge, Town Centre and Portland, Tafelsig; Arisen Women is in Weltevreden, including Kosovo Informal Settlement, Weltevreden Valley North 1 and 2, Isiqalo, Heinz Park, Rocklands, Westridge and West Gate; TB HIV Care services patients from Brown’s Farm, and are based at Inzam Zabantu; Philani takes care of Boy’s Town, Crossroads SP, Gqobasi Informal Settlement, Philippi SP – East and Park; and Opportunity to Serve Ministry (OTSM) Home-Based Care caregivers at Lentegeur and Mandalay community health Centres serves residents in Colorado Park, Lentegeur, Woodlands and Mandalay.

These arrangements might change according to the authorities’ needs to contain the virus. 

Mr Ramaphosa on Monday March 23 announced a lockdown on national television, which only permits essential service providers to continue working.

During his speech he thanked health workers, doctors, nurses and paramedics, who were at the forefront of the pandemic.

Since the national state of disaster was declared, a range of regulations and directives were put into place including the restriction on international travel, prohibition of gathering of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm. 

Mr Ramaphosa reiterated calls for citizens to wash their hands frequently, with hand sanitiser or soap and water; cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow; and to avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

“Everyone must do everything within their means to avoid contact with other people,” he said.

The National Coronavirus Command Council decided to enforce a nation-wife lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday March 26. 

“This decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” he said.

For more specific information call the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) hotline on 080 002 999, which operates seven days a week and 24 hours; the Western Cape Provincial Government Hotline on 021 928 4102; or WhatsApp 060 012 3456.