'I’m wishing it away': ICU doctor on Covid-19 front line speaks of 4th wave

Dr De Vries Basson inside the high-care Covid-19 ward at Karl Bremer Hospital.
Dr De Vries Basson inside the high-care Covid-19 ward at Karl Bremer Hospital.
Image: Supplied

Exhaustion and anxiety are hitting healthcare workers hard as they continue to work long hours on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

Intensive care doctor De Vries Basson, who has also put in the work and time, is appealing to the public for more support in fighting Covid-19.

“This third wave’s intensity is much higher and we’re seeing much younger patients being admitted. They are critically ill,” he said.

“What really struck me is that you see whole families come in for treatment to the hospital due to Covid-19 and they are all so ill. You hope that you will be able to keep them all safe. Covid-19 is real.”

Basson is the head of internal medicine at Karl Bremer Hospital in Cape Town and says his team has been under pressure over the past three weeks.

“We have converted some wards into high-care wards to care for Covid-19 patients. Currently, one of our highest loads remains Covid-19 admissions and, at the same time, we found over the past three weeks that non-Covid-19 admissions had increased. This means that there is added pressure on our teams in ICU and beyond.

“We have also had cases where families struggle to care for the elderly, and they’ve been admitted to our hospitals for further care,” he said.

He hopes more people will choose vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and healthcare workers.

“I am wishing it away, the fourth wave ... I am hoping that more residents will take their vaccine and that the public will adhere to the general rules: sanitise your hands, remember to wear your mask, avoid crowds and stay home when sick. Lastly, please get your vaccine.”

Basson said his colleagues and messages of support have kept him going during the pandemic. “I owe it to my colleagues ... everybody checks in on each other every day. Then there are people in general in our hospital who greet each other and take time to motivate you.

“Often just a WhatsApp message of encouragement makes your day better,” he added.