Across the country – and the world – nurses have taken up their positions alongside doctors and other medical staff as frontline fighters in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nurse Lezel Meyer, 43, who works at the Grassy Park Community Health Centre (CHC), said before the news of the first case of infection in South Africa broke, nurses and other medical staff had been doing their best to not only to prevent infection, but also to put patients’ minds at ease during this unprecedented time.
Ms Meyer, who has been a nurse since 1997, has been based at Grassy Park CHC for the past six years. She said in spite of the current fears about the virus, she does not regret becoming a nurse and helping her patients.
“I fear that we could be infected with the virus. That is the reality of the situation, but my most important obligation is to keep our patients safe, to keep them healthy and to give them the best medical service that we possibly can during this time.”
Asked how she and her colleagues kept sane during such trying times, Ms Meyer said the seriousness of the situation could become overwhelming at times but that humour and knowledge had kept her and her colleagues level-headed.
“This has never (before) happened in our time but my colleagues and I try to keep our spirits up by making each other and patients laugh and smile. We also have regular meetings to keep everyone well informed about the situation and what’s happening at the facility and that helps a lot,” she said.
After her shift ends, she goes to her Retreat home but no one is allowed to come close to her or touch her.
“When I get home everybody goes to their separate rooms while I get undressed and shower and only then we are allowed to greet and talk. This is an attempt to keep them safe – I do not want to put them at risk,” she said.
Her parents, who are seniors, live with her, her husband and two children.
A separate bedroom with a bathroom has been prepared and other measures have also been put in place to protect her and her family.
Asked what the most difficult part of the job was during the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Meyer said people still didn’t understand the severity of the virus and many did not comply with the lockdown regulations implemented by the government.
“People refuse to abide by social distancing. They don’t understand why we cannot assist non-emergency cases.
“They still don’t understand why we screen them before going into the facility and they think we’re wasting their time. Others say the virus won’t affect them and many still don’t understand the seriousness of the situation. This makes our jobs a lot more difficult,” she said.
She pleaded with patients to act responsibly.
“We need patients to understand that we are doing all these things to keep them and
ourselves safe so screenings
are extremely important and we ask that they please com-
“Please help us protect
you, your family, us, our families, the community and in essence the country and the world. Stay safe, stay at home, do not socialise and keep as minimal contact as possible. Only go out for essentials,” she said.