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SA doc's moving account of Covid-19 on the frontline: 'Our systems are cracking'

6 July 2020 10:41 AM

Specialist physician Dr Kagiso Motse describes the anxiety and fears in the ICU wards as the numbers of Covid-19 infections rise.

Dr Kagiso Motse, a specialist physician and nephrologist posted on Facebook recently that her training at medical school definitely did not prepare her for the current pandemic.

She explained how hard it is having to tell families that their loved ones have died over the phone rather than in person.

Refilwe Moloto speaks to her about what she is experiencing on the frontlines of the pandemic.

What's going on right now in the hospitals?

I think the big thing right now is we are just anxious. We are seeing huge numbers.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

Lab results on average are showing about 25% of patients tested are positive for Covid-19.

We are dealing with a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and our systems are cracking.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

Most public institutions at the moment - we prepared and prepared and tried our best but we are cracking, because med school didn't prepare us for this and three months of lockdown, I don't think we anticipated where we are at the moment.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

Are field hospitals not helping?

She says they can help, but only a select group of patients can be admitted to them.

If you're acutely ill you are not really a candidate for a field hospital. Some have oxygen capacity and some don't.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

She says the huge large volume field hospitals usually do not have oxygen and are for patients who have tested positive but are minimally symptomatic but are unable to isolate at home.

Some field hospitals do have oxygen capabilities but very few of them have ICU and critical care capability.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

She implies that most field hospitals serve the function of isolation centres.

In the North West province where she works, she says by the end of last week ICU beds were 80-90% full.

Anxiety about health workers contracting the virus on the frontlines

She explains that now there is what she calls 'an additional barrier to care'.

Where normally you would jump to resuscitate a patient, you now have to think, wait, am I safe? Am I in full PPE? Can I start to do this?

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

She says health care workers are doing everything correctly in terms of PPE but some are still testing positive after some time.

Ther is also an additional burden that the likelihood that a lot of infections are probably not happening in the hospital - some may be happening at home and in the community where people are not wearing masks - because the viral load in the community is increasing and it is getting higher and higher.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

We're tired. Every day is that moment of convincing yourself, ok I'm going to get up, I'm going to do this.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

There are a lot of us that feel until I'm crawling, I'm not going to test - because if I'm asymptomatic and I test positive I'm out of work for the next two weeks...and then that burden increases on those still left on the ground.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

She agrees it feels like a war zone at times.

I tell myself all the time I don't have time for a pity party. So on a daily basis, just put on your big girl panties and work because the work needs to be done.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

The other side of the coin is non-Covid patients are coming in for treatment too late.

They're afraid to come to the hospital, it's difficult for them to get into the hospital.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

She says it is difficult to get an ICU bed for any illness that is not Covid-related.

Once you have a Covid ward, you cannot have a Covid and non-Covid patient lying next to each other - so there's less space in hospitals for people who don't have Covid.

Dr Kagiso Motse, Specialist physician and nephrologist

Listen to Dr Motse's heartfelt interview below:

Listen to Dr Kagiso Motse's heartfelt interview below:


6 July 2020 10:41 AM

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