A collaborative and evolving response to the needs of frontline workers, patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic at Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape Province, South Africa
CITATION: Brocker, E. et al. 2021. A collaborative and evolving response to the needs of frontline workers, patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic at Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 111(5):405-408, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i5.15648.
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
The global devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its mental health impact is undeniable. The physical and psychological consequences are wide-ranging – affecting patients fighting the disease, frontline workers in the trenches with them, healthcare staff deployed in high-care settings, and families disconnected from their loved ones in their darkest hours. Within 6 weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa, the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University established the TBH/SU COVID Resiliency Clinic to provide psychological support to frontline workers at Tygerberg Hospital. Identified barriers in healthcare workers accessing mental healthcare resulted in moving towards an on-site visibility to try to remove some of these barriers. This greater on-site presence enabled networking and building of relationships with frontline staff that over time highlighted other frontline needs, such as providing psychosocial and spiritual support to patients and their families. We share challenges, lessons learned and recommendations from two initiatives: the TBH/SU COVID-19 Resiliency Clinic, and an embedded COVID Care Team (CCT). We describe the establishment, roll-out and progress of the Clinic and the subsequent CCT.