Healthcare workers share a dose of reality as antidote to COVID-19 complacency

“There are just too many people who are not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.  Even now, when more people are getting infected than ever before and dying in vast numbers, I still get asked by young people if this is real, as if this is some great conspiracy theory, or they brush it off and say it is just another flu.  I wish these same people could see what we are seeing in our hospitals on a daily basis.  I wish they could spend time with a healthcare worker who is mentally and emotionally beyond breaking point as they tend to the sick, and most devastatingly, have to tell family members that their loved one did not make it.  I wish they could see the trauma of someone gasping for breath, unable to fill their lungs with life-giving oxygen.  Maybe it is only when they are personally affected that they will understand what we are up against.  We simply cannot afford to become complacent.  As we fight a raging second wave, the preventative measures of social distancing, wearing a mask and handwashing and sanitising are simple yet incredibly effective. If we do not all play our part as society, we will be facing a third and fourth wave at this rate.”  Nellie Mathibe, Assistant Manager responsible for COVID-19 screening at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and qualified nurse.

Nellie Mathibe, Assistant Manager responsible for COVID-19 screening at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital recounts her experience over the last 11 months and there is no missing the raw emotion in her voice.  For almost a year, healthcare workers have been at the forefront of fighting the pandemic and the toll on their emotional, mental and physical health has been profound.

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At the end of December 2020, iContact, a BPO specialising in inbound and outbound sales and customer support services, hosted Nellie Mathibe and Carol Mthunzi, both nurses at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, to pay tribute to the healthcare workers who risk life and limb on a daily basis. They were joined by Thandi Mtshemla who heads up iContact’s #COVID19 safety operations.

“Our healthcare heroes have been at the forefront of taking care of critically ill patients infected by COVID-19 for the past 11 months.  They are the ones nursing, caring, holding hands and offering hope, while they themselves face overwhelming odds of being infected.  The burning question is, who takes care of the healthcare workers? We wanted to set aside a special day for them to let them know how much we appreciate the work they do, and that we see the risks they take every day to care for others.  We also knew that their message to our employees, mostly youth, could not come at a more important time as COVID fatigue and complacency started creeping in as South Africa braced for a second wave,” explains Clinton Cohen, CEO of iContact BPO.

With all precautionary measures in place, Nellie and Carol addressed the call centre agents, recounting their experience on the frontlines of COVID-19, and again stressing the critical importance of the basic safety measures of social distancing, wearing a mask and regular handwashing and sanitising.  One of the key issues addressed is that while employers are going to exceptional measures to create a safe working environment for their employees, what happens when people go home and after work hours can make or break all these efforts. Research shows that young people are becoming less cautious when it comes to following recommended COVID-19 precautions, while at the same time infection rates in the 20-29 age group are climbing.

“We have completely reconfigured our call centre environment, seating plans, people traffic flows through the building, screening processes, timing of breaks and sanitisation processes to ensure as safe an environment as humanly possible for employees who cannot work from home for various operational reasons.  While all of this remains crucial, the bigger concern is what employees are doing after hours and at home. All employers are facing the same challenges, and we all battle the dual challenges of keeping employees safe at work while ensuring business continuity and protecting jobs and revenue streams.  Employees have an important role to play in managing the spread of Covid-19 by ensuring that all these safety measures are applied in their personal and home environments too.

“As we head into 2021, the statistics emanating from the second wave of COVID-19 are no longer a dispassionate analysis – they are names of people we know and love. More than ever, we all need to play our role, work as a collective, and beat COVID-19 through solidarity. Unlike new treatments and a vaccine, wearing a mask, washing hands regularly and social distancing doesn’t require scientific breakthroughs to stop the spread of COVID-19.  This was the important message that our healthcare heroes shared on the day.  Having them recount their personal, lived experiences was probably the best antidote to creeping complacency and we cannot begin to thank them enough for their selfless efforts,” concludes Cohen.

Issued by:            Teresa Settas Communications

Teresa Settas

(011) 894 2767 or

On behalf of:      iContact

Clinton Cohen – CEO

Date:                     Jan 2021



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