Doctors on the COVID-19 frontline

The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on our healthcare professionals. They go to work every day knowing that they risk their health and lives to protect ours. The challenge they face is immense. The impact on their loved ones is significant. These are their stories.

Ep 6

Tools for healthcare professionals to cope with the stresses of COVID-19

Medicine is a stressful profession under normal circumstances. Medical personnel are even more at risk of burnout so under crisis conditions such as during a pandemic. Psychotherapist Louisa Niehaus, looks at how healthcare professionals can cope during the time of extreme anxiety and uncertainty brought by COVID-19. This is a time in which the demands of the work can lead to exhaustion, cynicism and perceived inefficiency. Caring for patients who are sick and deteriorating can be very stressful and deeply saddening. Louisa shares insight into acute stress reactions and how doctors can help themselves through the present and future reality.

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Ep 5

Dr Despina Demopoulos: The reality of preparing for the peak of the pandemic in SA

“What if I don’t make it? What is going to happen to my children? Will everything be okay?” These are the worries that keep doctors like paediatric intensivist, Dr Despina Demopoulos, and her colleagues, up at night. Azania Mosaka speaks to Dr Demopoulos about how lockdown has helped doctors to prepare for a future peak in the COVID-19 pandemic in SA. Dr Demopoulos explains the pressure that doctors are under and the work she and others are doing to ensure that the healthcare system copes with future needs. Dr Demopoulos is a wife, mother of three and nine-year-old boys, and a doctor on the frontline of treating patients with COVID-19 in South Africa. She is also a member of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centres COVID-19 Task team and Ethics committee, the Gauteng COVID-19 ICU group and The SA Paediatric COVID-19 Ethics Palliative Care & Critical Care team.”

Ep 4

Hlokomela works to bring primary healthcare to people left destitute by COVID-19

“People are hungry. People don’t have food.” So says Christine du Preez in her interview with Azania Mosaka. When we talk about people working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget the NGOs that are working tirelessly to support South Africa’s most vulnerable communities. Hlokomela is an award-winning healthcare programme set up 14 years ago by Christine to bring primary healthcare to local workers in farming, nature conservation and tourism in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. One of Hlokomela’s greatest supporters has been the Discovery Fund. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought local tourism to a halt, leaving many people without income. And, Hlokomela’s 82 “Nomphilos” (healthcare workers) have been thrust into the forefront of screening for COVID-19.

Ep 3

UYDF: How has COVID-19 affected student doctors from rural areas?

The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare professionals who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic is very much in the spotlight. However, what impact is the pandemic having on students working to become doctors, nurses, dentists and to enter other careers in healthcare? And, what happens when these students hail from rural areas where the challenge of access to digital and remote learning is significant? Azania Mosaka talks to Gavin MacGregor, director of the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation. This scholarship programme has for years succeeded in addressing the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals in rural hospitals by investing in local youth. UYDF has, since 2001, been supported by the Discovery Fund. COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenge to UYDF’s students. How have they adapted?

Ep 2

A doctor speaks to his colleagues: take care of your health, to be able to care for others

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic our focus is on flattening the curve, working through the stay-at-home period and maintaining physical distancing. How many of us have paused to acknowledge the mental and physical healthcare challenges that every healthcare professional now faces, day in and day out? Endocrinologist Dr Sundeep Ruder has a deep passion for wellbeing and public health. He tells Azania Mosaka why, and how, our healthcare professionals should care for themselves as they tackle the COVID-19 tide. He also helps us all to better understand the situation our healthcare professionals find themselves in.

Ep 1

How do doctors really feel in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Doctors are far more vulnerable to COVID-19 than many of us realise. Specialist Dr Venesh Moodley is one of countless healthcare professionals vulnerable to severe illness as a result of repeated exposure to COVID-19 every day, at work. The challenge he and his colleagues face is immense. The stress, responsibility and importance of every decision they make weighs heavily on them. Dr Moodley shares the fear and hope that doctors feel, and explains what life is really like for doctors right now as they do all they can to keep themselves, their families and each and every one of us safe.

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