Healthcare workers at Pelonomi Hospital say they are often abused during this time

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Healthcare professionals at Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein have to prepare themselves mentally before working during the festive season as they experience more abuse during this time.

The abuse which could be verbal or physical usually emanates from patients or their families. Most nurses and doctors say a lot of theatrics, transpire especially at night during the festive season.

Pelonomi Hospital becomes busy during the festive season. Chances of healthcare professionals experiencing foul mouth from patients or their relatives and also various threats of verbal or physical abuse remain high. Professional nurse Xolile Plaatjie explains some of the uneasy circumstances that healthcare professionals have to bear.

“I have experienced this mostly on weekends because you’ll find that it’s the time to drink, so people are not exactly understanding why there are so many patients, so we always try to explain that we have to see people who are very sick first,” says Plaatjie.

Dramatic incidents usually happen during the night. This is when many people are impatient, especially if they’re under the influence of alcohol. Night matron, Nomiso Magibile-Williams says the shortage of staff is also one of the main factors that contribute to the pressure that healthcare professionals face on daily basis.

“During the night that is when people are coming in, that is only the time that people are coming in here, during the day they were still busy drinking, then during the night they’re here, they’re calling us names and they need assistance as quickly as possible and sometimes it’s not as easy as they need,” says Magibile-Williams.

Operational manager, Monica Mkhahlane says mental healthcare remains a constant essential for healthcare professionals as they work at the only trauma centre in the province.

“I think it’s very important for us to prepare ourselves mentally because working during the festive season is not the same as working throughout the year. Because of challenges, trauma and casualty, they become so busy, so you have to be ready for any action. Because just like the matron said, family members are problematic, patients also, some of them are problematic, so we need to be prepared,” says Mkhahlane.

The healthcare facility’s management provides contingency plans during this time to ensure that nurses and doctors are mentally and physically fit to face any possibility.

“Having said that we’re a trauma centre and a burn unit, from time to time, it doesn’t take a special occasion like Christmas for us to suddenly have a disaster, so we utilise our disaster management team which is available in the hospital and we do debriefings after a major disaster has happened and staff has found themselves engulfed in that disaster to try and deal with the patients,” explains Head of clinical services at the hospital, Dr Mojalefa Maseloa.

There’s also an employee wellness centre which includes an occupational health doctor, nurses and psychologist, to provide all the support needed by the healthcare professionals.

VIDEO: Concerns over abuse of healthcare professionals at Pelonomi Hospital