Students volunteer their time to fight virus

Students volunteer their time to fight virus.
Students volunteer their time to fight virus.
Image: 123RF/Dario Lo Presti

A group of students from Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape have sacrificed the recess period to help fight Covid-19.

Hundreds of undergraduate students from the university's faculty of medicine and health sciences are volunteering at Tygeberg Hospital.

The students are working on numerous fronts. There are 70 students working at the hospital's Covid-19 screening area, another 20 students are screening patients, 15 students are working at the contact tracing centre, 115 are assisting with the national Covid-19 helpline and another 70 senior students are helping with the day-to-day functioning of the hospital, drawing blood and placing drips.

Student intern Sheryl Marshall said: "Volunteering was the most natural thing to do. I really felt that I wanted to stay and help, especially when we are facing such a huge health crisis. Just getting to the hospital is anxiety-provoking... Also, you know that it's going to get hectic, but you don't know when, and you don't know how it will play out exactly."

Marshall helps to care for patients in Tygerberg Hospital's internal medicine ward, which frees up more doctors to attend to Covid-19 patients.

Cameron Fourie, a second-year student working in the Covid-19 tracing centre, said: "I wanted to stay and make a difference and help wherever I was able to. I was able to do that by volunteering my services in order to help the country fight against Covid-19."

Dr Suretha Kannemberg, a lecturer in the division of dermatology at the faculty of medicine and health science, is currently managing the volunteer services.

"The students are doing this of their own volition. The hospital and university never requested assistance, they just took it upon themselves and we are so grateful for their help. The students were provided with the necessary training and protective equipment. They received a flu vaccination before they were allowed to work in hospital, and are working under the supervision of senior healthcare staff," Kannemberg said.

She added that the students are also collecting data and running statistics for the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the faculty, while others are doing data capturing at the division of medical virology.


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