Me and my colleague Mrs Estelle Cloete have been presenting staff support sessions at Mediclinic Vereeniging for the past five weeks. It consists of us mostly listening to the staff’s experiences as well as offering a short meditation.

In the beginning I was quite anxious- what will I teach them? And who I am to even try to teach them?

I quickly realized that the wisdom I was looking for comes out of the group. I became intrigued how various people (including nursing staff, admin staff, cleaners, and security staff) coped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The staff who coped best seemed to have discovered the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) idea of Radical Acceptance. This means that there is a “complete and total acceptance, from deep within, of the facts of reality. It involves acknowledging facts that are true and letting go of a fight with reality.” (Linehan, 2015)

Thank you Mediclinic Vereeniging- you guys rock!

Here are a few quotes – in the staff’s own words- that I have collected so far:

• Accept this this thing is going to be with us for another 2-3 years. It is not going away

• If you have accepted it, the fear goes away

• Do what you can, wash hands, wear masks, social distancing even if people make nasty remarks

• Eat healthy. Eat vegetables and drink water.

• Give it a name and talk to it like it is a person. Take no nonsense from it. Say your God is bigger, and you are safe

• You are here to do your work. Do so without thinking about other people that became sick or positive. Bring your thoughts back to cleaning and do your work the best you can

• Walk mindfully to your office after clocking in. Makes breathing slower and helps for panic attacks

• We are the A team! (Ward J-COVID ward)

• I put my earphones in and listen to loud music. Let the people mess on the floor, if I am angry, I cannot start the day nice. Always be calm no matter what the day brings. The Lord will protect me. This is who I am, I let go of everything

• If you get symptoms, maybe it is just flu. And sing.

• I do what I need to do and do not think of this (COVID) at all

• Having training really helped, I felt I could do anything!

• My friend remembers me what I forget. I sometimes forget there is a virus. We are a team.

• The worst was when we were waiting for it to come. You could see the fear on the faces. But training helped a lot, the Unit Manager was always there for us. We are no longer scared; we know what to do. We have learned to talk about it.

• How can I manage what I do not know? Training and experience helped a lot. I was always scared of corpses, but we (peadiatric staff) learned from the oncology staff. I love how they deal with death. They are so calm; you do not even know someone has died.

• You just cannot be negative

• Have faith

• After quarantine I have a stronger relationship with my husband

• I was scared, but then I saw even if they (nurses) became positive, they recovered, and they come back to work (Cleaner)

• I am very conscious about what is going on around me now

• We have learned what the patients need and can give it to them. And we still have work, retrenchment will be the worst

• Wash your hands properly. And breath

Dr. Melane Van Zyl

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