Dr V Vallabhjee is a GP in private practice in the Shakaskraal area of KwaZulu-Natal, and has been working in the community for 8 years. His practice sees general conditions such as flu, asthma, pneumonia and HIV. What Dr Vallabhjee did not expect to find was that he himself would become a patient during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Initially during the first days of lockdown, Dr Vallabhjee explains that he did not think the virus was as contagious as we have now found it to be, his practice was quiet. However, when level 3 opened up society a little more he was infected by Covid-19. “My perspective has completely changed since I personally became infected with the coronavirus,” he says.
“I started experiencing mild symptoms that at first included a dry cough and muscular body pains, and initially no fever, sore throat or headache. I began experiencing a fever, which turned into night sweats and subsequently rigors within 2 days. Antipyretic medication worked for a short while but I was feeling miserable. The cough was still dry but shortness of breath set in and this became rapidly worse; a few short steps and I was completely out of breath – this is when I decided to go to Mediclinic Victoria to have a chest x-ray done,” Dr Vallabhjee outlines the progress of his infection.
The x-ray indicated pneumonia, and he was hospitalised in ICU for five days. Oral swabs taken confirmed his positive status. “Because I am a healthcare worker, I was treated for a community acquired pneumonia as well with second line IV antibiotics. Because SARS Covid disease is associated with blood clot formation in multiple organ systems, I was treated prophylactically with a blood thinner. I was also on immune boosters and nasal oxygen and antipyretics IV,” he continues.
Dr Vallabhjee expresses his appreciation to the doctors and nursing staff working within the hospitals, fighting alongside the patients for their recovery, “I really have a deep respect for the doctors and nursing staff at the Mediclinic. They were so compassionate and understanding during my 9 day stay. Covid usually has this ominous stigma attached to it but their care was unprejudiced and professional. I am grateful and very appreciative.”
His recovery was slow but steady following his discharge, “I was very weak having lost about 3kgs in the process. My appetite had decreased but my breathing was improving on a daily basis. The cough and rigors were gone. I quarantined at home post discharge and was getting progressively better as the days went by.”
His advice to those recovering from Covid-19 infection is to not rush into doing any strenuous activity, especially after recovering from Covid-pneumonia. “Gain strength first. Eat balanced meals and take immune boosters such as quercetin, vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc. Practice breathing exercises like breath stacking (helps with diminished lung capacity) and breathing in the prone position (helps to recruit the alveoli air sacs for more lung oxygenation). This will surely help on the road to recovery,” he advises.
Dr Vallabhjee expresses his thoughts regarding Covid-19, “I am now deeply concerned about the Covid-19 virus as it was the first time I was hospitalised for a respiratory illness and I was taken aback by the sudden rapid onset of this disease. We as healthcare workers need to protect ourselves with the full PPE kits when at work. There is currently no confirmed evidence that we have immunity to this disease after initial infection, which is concerning when I consider my initial infection. I just hope that we get a vaccine as soon as possible so that the world as we knew it can return to normal.”
Dr Vallabjhee also expresses his concern regarding the community. He feels that the community needs to prioritise their health by observing social distancing (including no handshakes or hugs when greeting), not having any social gatherings and ensuring that they wear a multi-layered mask. He emphasises the importance of hand sanitation for at least 20 seconds after touching any surface and try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth areas. “While recovery is always possible – prevention is still the ultimate goal.”
So what is the solution to ensure continuity of care during the peak of the pandemic in KwaZulu-Natal? “Many doctors are now doing telephone consultations or video calling patients which is appropriate for our current situation since we are now in the peak of this disease.”
Source: The Future of Healthcare
With COVID-19 taking humanity by storm, we have all come to learn how the medical sector and all who call it home, put their lives on the line for the greater good of others. This level of selflessness and bravery is truly something to be admired and through a memorable initiative from Mediclinic Newcastle, is now immortalised. Giving people the opportunity to admire the heroes, who stood courageously side by side, fighting an invisible enemy.
Honouring these extraordinary people, Mediclinic Newcastle unveiled their memorial wall on 27 August 2020. A permanent fixture within the hospital, paying tribute to the heroes within Mediclinic Newcastle.
The purpose of the wall is to acknowledge the sacrifice made by doctors, nurses and other staff. It stands as a tribute for years to come, allowing future generations to admire the selfless work these individuals carried out in a time of crisis.
Unveiling the Memorial Wall, Newcastle Mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba started the proceedings, sharing his thoughts with guests.
“When everything started with COVID-19, no one really knew what to expect,” he began. However, as people witnessed the virus spreading faster around the globe, a sense of uncertainty and fear struck Newcastillians when COVID-19 arrived in Newcastle. Dr Mahlaba says it is then, that people truly knew COVID-19 was real.
Dr Mahlaba went on to celebrate the hospital staff’s commitment by stating. “You all worked like true soldiers, never leaving the war zone and I commend your dedication.”
The renowned Dr Josh Matambo, chairman of Mediclinic Newcastle’s Board of Directors, highlighted that memorial walls such as the new fixture at the hospital can be found around the world. Marking not only a time of crisis; but showcasing those who sacrificed themselves for a worthy cause.
The Chairman went on to reaffirm the value of the Mediclinic Newcastle Team, seeing them now synonymised throughout history.
“It is an important reminder of those who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk,” he emphasised.
Dr Matambo explained the memorial wall stands as a constant reminder to what can be achieved when people work together.
He went on to say, “The wall serves a greater purpose than our selves. It shows that what we do now, will echo through history.”
Adding to the event’s speakers, Japie Greyling, The Hospital General Manager, extended his heartfelt thanks to all the hospital’s staff and healthcare practitioners, from the cleaners to the doctors and nurses.
Emphasising how their constant dedication and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, Greyling proudly said, “It is remarkable when someone fell ill, the next person came, picked the flag up and continued”.
Adding to this, Greyling concluded by saying that each and every single individual at the event was a true hero in his eyes. “I thank each one of you, as well as our colleagues from Provincial.”
In these trying times, being able to stop for a moment and appreciate the souls who never faulted in their oath to protect the health and wellbeing of people, is without question something to be treasured.