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Hospital team bonds formed during pandemic akin to war situations, says expert

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Groote Schuur Hospital’s professor Marc Mendelson was speaking on a panel of expert, giving insight into the treatment of infected patients in a hospital setting.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla officially opened Groote Schuur Hospital’s COVID-19 triage and testing centre on 12 June 2020. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN

CAPE TOWN – A infectious diseases specialist said that it was vital that every department in a hospital was focused on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Groote Schuur Hospital’s Professor Marc Mendelson was speaking on a panel of experts, giving insight into the treatment of infected patients in a hospital setting.

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Mendelson said that very strict infection prevention measures were critical at all hospital facilities to curb the spread of the disease.

Nearly four months ago, the first COVID-19 swab was taken at Groote Schuur Hospital.

The facility’s head of infectious diseases and HIV medicine, Professor Marc Mendelson, explained that they initially started out with a small team of five members.

“At that stage, there was one single room in one ward. We started through the infectious diseases team. We had three consultants and two junior doctors.”

Now 114 clinicians are on the hospital’s COVID-19 ward service, besides those in ICU, emergency units, and the psychiatry and obstetrics departments.

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Mendelson said that it was vital to form dedicated teams to help manage the COVID-19 caseload.

“Once teams are formed in wards during epidemics, it’s akin to war situations. Those teams are very powerful. A bond is made. That’s an important thing to bear in mind.”

Having psychological support for staff is also a crucial aspect to get them through the challenging time.

“There’s a lot of death and real stresses going on in terms of the surge. So, if you have the psychiatry services, I’d say definitely use them.”

Of the more than 1,000 patients admitted at Groote Schuur Hospital, 251 have died, 222 are in-patients and 610 have been discharged.

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