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NSRI salutes our volunteers on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19. Saria van As, Infection Prevention & Control Coordinator at George Hospital, and shore controller at Station 23 (Wilderness), tells her story.Before the pandemic, my role at the hospital was not that prominent, but now everybody knows my number! We’ve had lots and lots and lots of meetings, lots of uncertainty, and lots of differences in opinion about the best way to go about managing things. Let’s just say … it’s kept us very busy!I think George Hospital is one of the best, if not the best, government hospital in the country. The management team is excellent, really cares for the staff and is good about keeping us informed.Although we have seen a steady increase in infections ­– in both patients and staff – the hospital still has capacity. At this stage, we’re not completely overloaded and the staff is coping. It does seem that the way things have been handled by the district has helped to flatten the curve. But it is difficult for the staff emotionally to be seeing people die from Covid-19.We receive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and policies from Western Cape Department of Health, and then I’m responsible for training staff in the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention.I will admit, I’m very tired when I get home, so there’s not much energy left for anything other than family, the hospital and Sea Rescue.This is my sixth year as a volunteer. I started because the person who does my nails told me about the NSRI. I love the beach and the water, and I have been so privileged in my life that I decided it would be a good way to give something back.We train every second week and have Microsoft Teams meetings. At the moment, there aren’t many call-outs outside of my work hours, so I mostly do admin work and manage the control room during trainings.Lockdown can make you feel very caged up and isolated. One positive is that my husband has been home more, so it has been good to spend more time with him. I have two daughters. One is a registered nurse in a maternity ward in Potchefstroom, and the other lives in the USA – I’ve spent lots of time in lockdown talking to them too.Is there someone special in your life who is working on the frontlines? We would love to hear your story. Email and stand the chance to win your choice of a t-shirt or sweatshirt from the NSRI shop.
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