Grassy Park man beats the virus with support

Dennis and his wife Francina Ruiters.

Following his more than two-week battle with Covid-19, Grassy Park resident Dennis Ruiters, 66, said it was prayer and the help of his family, friends and staff at health facilities
that enabled him to beat the virus.

The senior fell ill on the evening of Friday July 10, feeling weak and suffering shortness of breath. His family realised the severity of his symptoms and immediately took him to the Retreat Community Health Centre (CHC).

A day later Mr Ruiters was admitted to Victoria Hospital and then transferred to the Hospital of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) which was one of the Covid-19 treatment centres – now closed.

However, his condition worsened and he was then transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital where he spent time in their Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“At times I did not know where I was and I have no
recollection of being moved to ICU.

“I experienced lameness in my legs, shortness of breath. When I woke up I wondered if I had a heart attack as there were so many pipes in my body and oxygen on me. When the doctor saw me regaining consciousness, she called me miracle boy,” said Mr Ruiters.

After a couple of days at Groote Schuur, Mr Ruiters was well enough to return to the Hospital of Hope.

Speaking from his home, he expressed his appreciation for the medical and nursing staff who treated him.

“The way they treated us was excellent. I don’t know all the doctors’ names, but they treated us with respect, care, and consideration.

“We had good relationships with them. From medical doctors, to the physiotherapist and dieticians, I am so thankful for the energy they put into treating us.

“Even cleaning staff, to see how they took great care to clean the facility – every one put so much effort into their duties and it was so evident,” he said.

Mr Ruiters was discharged from the Hospital of Hope on July 27 after spending 16 days in admission between the facilities.

Wife Francina Ruiters said two weeks before Mr Ruiters was admitted to hospital he had had night sweats and a fever.

“At night he would call out ‘Lord help me’.”

The Western Cape Health Department’s Southern District spokesperson, Natalie Watlington, said through the process of tracing and testing Mr Ruiters’ close contacts, it was identified that his wife had contracted the virus as well.

“She could not isolate safely at home, as there were young children in the home. She therefore volunteered to isolate safely at a quarantine and isolation facility,” she said.

Ms Ruiters said being there got lonely at times. “But it was the safest option for me, as I did not want to put my family at risk. It was hard, as I did not share the news with Dennis. I did not want to stress him out as he was in hospital and not in a good condition.

“When Dennis returned from hospital, the neighbours came out in the cul-de-sac and clapped hands. The family children had made posters to welcome him back home. Where we live we are like family. We are one community. We stand together and support each other.”

Mr Ruiters said he and his wife had attended funerals during the national lockdown and that it could potentially have been where they picked up the virus.

He appealed to the community to act responsibly.

“They must not think that because numbers seem to be declining that we are safe. Still wear your mask, still be careful. I am talking from experience. I did not ever think that I would get Covid-19 and yet I did and only by the grace of God, I got through it.

“And therefore I would say to Grassy Park and everyone – be careful, wear your mask, sanitise, and remain vigilant.”