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Ms Elma de Koker
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Frontline staff series: loving their work


Occupational Health Centre staff members Sister Zubrina Baartman, Inga Gule and Fiona Magnus share their stories about doing the work they love.

‘We need prayers’

Sister Zubrina Baartman, 39, has been working tirelessly as a professional nurse at the COVID-19 Healthcare Screening Centre at the University since May in preparing for the return of staff and students under the Lockdown Level 3 restrictions.

The mother-of-two who is married to another frontline worker, Ashwell, a traffic officer for the Eastern Cape Department of Health, is responsible for screening on campus and capturing vital health information about staff.

Zubrina also assists with contact tracing by tracking down those individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and constantly checks up on infected patients through phone calls.

“We are facing a hard time as the country.  As forefront workers, I believe we need all the prayers we can get.  Our days at work begin with prayer and being surrounded by the prayers of our partners, children and families makes us stronger,” says Zubrina, who was with the Department of Health for more than 12 years before joining the institution.

Wanting to do more

Inga Gule, 26, a Social Work Intern at the University’s Occupational Health Centre since March, focuses on staff wellness and psychological wellbeing.

He interviews COVID-19 recovered staff members returning to work and who, in many cases, suffer from anxiety, fear, and stigmitisation.  Should they need counselling he assesses and refers them for counselling at the University, which he also organises for them.

He also provides feedback to the Centre’s nursing staff to be informed on psychological issues.

Inga also recently shared staff experiences in an article on the University’s website. 

“What I enjoy most is talking to people and making a difference in their lives.   I want to do more and be involved with counselling as a career.   I am passionate about personal development programmes for the youth, as I come from Lusikisiki, where there are limited opportunities”, says Inga, who is also studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies.  

‘Loving every minute’

Fiona Magnus, 48, joined the University in March, three days before the lockdown, to assist at the COVID-19 Screening Centre on North Campus.

“I am loving every minute, just to support people,” says Fiona.  Fiona is in charge of following up on all emails coming in from staff and department heads and alerting the institution as to the positive COVID-19 cases.

Fiona follows up on every case; she does a virtual follow-up screening and also refers her Mandela University colleagues to Wellness@Work for additional assistance.  Thereafter, she follows up daily with each patient to offer reassurance and care. 

She says that the anxiety and fear about the unknown when tested positive is very real. Fiona talks them through this and assists with advice. In between, she also helps with statistics.

“I am very grateful to be able to help at this time since nobody knows what the future will hold.  We just encourage people to stay safe and support one another. 

“We continue with training and lead by example with social distancing and the wearing of personal protective equipment.  Our risk is low as it is a safe environment for staff.”