Remain united, says physiotherapist

Tasha Smith

The world is in a panic, but we need to find peace and “ground ourselves in facts”.

These are the sentiments of Weltevreden Valley physiotherapist Tasha Smith, 23, who, as an essential worker, has not had the option of staying at home to protect herself from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Smith said while she had always wanted to work in the medical field, she hadn’t been quite sure what she wanted to do. She got into physiotherapy through a four-year Bachelor of Science programme at UWC after which she did one year of community service at Gelukspan district hospital in the North West province.

Now based at Tygerberg Hospital, she works with children who have TB or other conditions related to the chest and lungs, as well as cardiac problems. While she works with only two or three patients in the paediatric ward, which is separate from where Covid-19 patients are treated, she doesn’t take any chances.

“I make sure to sanitise and wipe down all surfaces and equipment, such as stethoscopes, files, and so on, before and after use,” she said.

“I also wear my mask at all times as well as my visor whenever I’m in contact with patients. Washing hands has always been a very important part of my routine in and out of hospital facilities as this is what we were taught since starting the course.”

And when she goes home, to where she lives with her parents, three siblings and niece, she has a strict cleaning routine before she interacts with anyone.

“As soon as I enter the house I go straight to the bathroom to wash up and change into different clothes, shoes included,” she explained.

“(I do this) to protect my family from any possible exposure, which is also something we’ve been taught to do since the beginning of this journey.”

And even things like keys, her phone and pens are not exempt from a scrub down.

Despite the fear and discomfort, she said, “We cannot shy away from this job. We need to help people as best we can.”

She added that it was essential for people to be educated about Covid-19.

“People who are not clued up on the virus may have a difficult time dealing with it,” she said.

And the extended lockdown has had its challenges, said Ms Smith, who has to take three taxis to get to work.

“Financially it is draining,” she told the Plainsman. “It is more expensive to travel to work and sometimes unsafe. I just hope things will get better for all of us, especially the essential workers.

“The world is in a panic, (but) people should ground themselves in facts, embrace their space, stay peaceful and help one another.

“We must remain united,” she said.