Archive: COVID-19

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #51: FRIDAY 26 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+26(L3)=DAY 92 

 A TRIBUTE TO OUR NURSING, CARING AND SUPPORT STAFF 

A short video is currently going around town, and no doubt way beyond. It’s ‘star’ is a well-known, well respected and much loved medical Specialist, shown lying on a gurney, being wheeled out of a Port Elizabeth hospital, on his way to being reunited with loved ones waiting for his return home. The Specialist had been in ICU for a long time, close to death, on and off a ventilator, while other Specialists, Doctors and dedicated nursing staff fought day and night to save him from becoming a victim of Covid-19. He has survived, and many, many people will be wishing him a complete recovery, and a return to his practice. This alone is a story worth sharing, an event worth celebrating. 

However, apart from the sheer joy of the occasion, what is remarkable about the video is that it shows two long rows of nursing and caring staff lining the passage and foyer between the Specialist’s ward and the exit doors, all clapping and cheering and waving, and shouting words of encouragement and affection. Even more remarkable is the brief speech at the exit doors, given by a senior nurse; on behalf of her colleagues, she thanked him for blessing them with his presence there, for his healing, for being a much loved member of the hospital ‘family’ for many years, and for recovering from the deadly virus. The Specialist gave a repeated thumbs-up sign and joining his hands in prayer; if he hadn’t been wearing a mask he may have even said some words himself, to give grateful thanks to them! 

We can all hope and pray that every day, across the city, the country and the world, those who have been infected with Covid-19 can leave a hospital, and go on the road to full recovery. Very few would receive such ‘star’ treatment as they leave, but we know that every life is important, all lives matter, and every life saved is a victory. 

The video is a timely reminder to everyone in the MHA family to pause for a while, to stop doing what keeps us busy and occupied, to stop worrying about the virus which is right in front of us, and to give our own grateful thanks to nursing, caring and support staff everywhere, but particularly our MHA angels. All of them report for duty each day or night, dedicating themselves to looking after the health and the various needs of our elderly residents who can no longer do that adequately themselves. We are increasingly needing to use the services of an agency to provide additional trained nursing and caring staff, and we thank them. We are totally reliant on cleanliness and hygiene provided by our dedicated and professional Housekeeping staff, and we thank them. Our outsourced Catering staff provide nutritious food for residents who no longer prepare their own meals, and we thank them. They have been doing a magnificent job to serve food to our Bedsitter residents who are currently isolated in their rooms, while they await the results of swab-testing for the virus. 

Sister Lesley Lawson, a Board member who has had a long and distinguished career in the nursing profession, has also seen the video, and she has contributed this message: 

An extract from the Nurses Pledge of Service: “I solemnly pledge myself to the service of humanity and will endeavour to practice my profession with conscience and with dignity”. 

We thank our Nurses and Carers who commit themselves every day to honouring this pledge. 

To all our nursing, caring and support staff, from the carers seconded from our Nikithemba team to the Matrons and our Nursing Services Manager: 

  • We salute your dedication 
  • We thank you for your commitment to caring for others 
  • We thank you for your professionalism, and for the skills you have learnt and apply 
  • We thank you for your courage 
  • And we pray for God’s continued protection over you, and your loved ones. 

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CovidCom reported in last week’s Newsflash that the COVID-19 virus was now present inside one of our facilities. It has been decided that this “NEED TO KNOW” item in the Newsflash will be featured in every edition, to keep residents and staff, and members of the wider MHA family, fully informed of what is happening across all of our facilities. Since CovidCom was formed in early March, and the Newsflashes began to flow, we have believed in communicating to everyone in a clear and transparent way. It is critically important for residents and staff to know what is happening within MHA; it is only in this way that all of us can play our part in fighting the battle which is currently raging. By being informed, you will understand what lies behind some of the decisions being taken, what actions have been implemented to best fight the ever-changing war, or what remains ‘work in progress’. We want to spread the same message to staff and residents alike. Because of the rate at which the scenario is changing, our report will, of necessity, be brief and to the point. if you require clarification, please speak to your Manager, or e-mail covic.concern@methomes.co.za 

We share the following today: 

  • The total number of swab tests carried out and submitted to Ampath pathologists=141 (awaiting 65 results) 
  • The total number of positive cases as at 13h00 on 26 June 2020 are: 
    1. Maranatha Frail Care=3 residents and 1 staff member 
    2. Bedsitters=1 staff member (which is why all Bedsitter residents were also swab-tested) 
    3. Aldersgate=1 resident 
  • Thankfully, all those infected with the virus are currently asymptomatic (showing no signs of illness) 
  • Staff who tested positive have been sent home, on full sick leave pay, to self-isolate for 14 days 
  • The resident who has tested positive has been instructed to self-isolate in the cottage (NO visitors) 
  • Frail Care/Bedsitter residents who return after hospitalization go to the MHA Isolation Ward for 14 days 
  • Other than for short-term post-hospital nursing care, the Isolation Ward is not available to Cottage residents; MHA does not have the facilities or capacity to handle Covid+ residents who are sick. Those who require isolation must do so in their cottage or, on advice from their GP, be moved to an available hospital. We cannot sugar-coat this reality, and it further emphasizes the need for all residents to be disciplined in wearing a mask, sanitizing, social distancing, being responsible about visiting and socializing, and not receiving any visitors other than fellow residents 
  • While the important issue of Domestic Cleaners (MHA employees or private) remains under review, the rapid increase in the spread of the virus is such that Cleaning services will not resume until at least end-October. A range of interim measures is being considered, and information will be shared soon 
  • In response to some queries, we should clarify that it is not compulsory to wear a mask when you are moving about your village, but it is the law of the land to wear a mask whenever you are in a public space, beyond your village. We do, however, recommend that you wear a mask as a matter of habit; it is a critical first-line barrier 
  • On a daily basis, limited to as few minutes as possible, keep informed about the spread of the virus in our Metro; it is escalating at a frightening pace, and infections doubled in the past ten days. Our hospitals are full. This is war; it is not a drill 

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COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #50: FRIDAY 19 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+19(L3)=DAY 85 

 Celebrating a half century in style!! 

Think about how much has happened, and how our lives have been changed, since Newsflash #01 was issued on 27 March 2020?! All of us, within the MHA family but also across the world, have been gripped by fear, uncertainty and a deepening sense of loss. The tragic deaths to Covid-19 are now an everyday event; we have almost become numb to the statistics and the stories. So too have we become numb to the repeated bungling, sloppy management and disagreement among most of the decision-makers in Government; you can visit/no you can’t; you can buy cigarettes/no you can’t; you can go back to school/no you can’t----and on it goes. So today, 85 days into Lockdown, we celebrate the 50th edition of Newsflash!

The President’s address to the nation on Wednesday night only gave us a glimpse of what Lockdown relaxations we can expect in the coming days; he will leave it to the circus performers to entertain us with their decisions. Don’t hold your breath; it’s bad for your health! 

CovidCom met yesterday, to discuss a range of issues, and we can share some of the outcomes with you. On certain key matters affecting you, the residents, we have to wait for final clarity from Government, which we anticipate will be available in the next few days. The following will be of interest to you, as they will have a significant impact on your lives as residents, and should be reason enough for muted celebration!! 

  • With immediate effect CovidCom is lifting the ban on your visiting one another in your cottages. You are free to visit one another as you wish; it remains your responsibility to ensure safe distancing 
  • Lockdown Level 3 rules do not allow receiving visitors from outside (family and friends), but we remain hopeful that there will be clarity on this from Government in the coming days 
  • Hairdressing services (by Rae Smith) at AnnesleyGardens/Sheariton and at Aldersgate will resume as soon as the necessary health/safety protocols have been agreed with her. We expect this to happen early next week. Unfortunately Rae will still not be able to use the salon at Bedsitters, used by their residents and by Cassia Gardens and CP Bradfield. We will continue to address this matter in the hope of finding a workable solution 
  • Lockdown Level 3 regulations do not allow gatherings, and so we are still not allowed to unlock our community halls (other than for limited access to the hairdressing salons). We all desperately hope that the rules will change in the coming days, and you’ll be able to resume this essential part of community life which the halls bring. Watch this space! 
  • Regarding MHA’s Domestic Housekeeping services and/or private employees, this difficult issue is still being addressed by CovidCom, in consultation with the Complex Managers. Various scenarios and solutions are under consideration. Until informed to the contrary, no Domestic services (private or MHA) will resume 


CovidCom hopes to clarify most of the above issues soon, and that we will be able to make announcements via the Bulk SMS facility, rather than wait for next Friday’s Newsflash. 

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The value of friends and family 

Christopher Hitchens, lauded public intellectual and a controversial public figure, said this: 

" I am at the stage of my life where I can still make friends but I will never make old friends again” 

That might be a chronological fact, but it is surely never too late to forge meaningful, supportive, loving friendships; it’s the depth, not the length, that matters! We won’t know unless we try! 

Maybe we should rather embrace this saying: “Family and Friends are the only currencies capable of lasting wealth”

MHA’s war against Covid-19 
CovidCom brings you up to date as follows, insofar as matters relating to the MHA family is concerned: 

  • Three further Covid-positive cases have been recorded at Maranatha Frail Care, following swab-tests of all residents and staff there. All three cases (two residents and one employee) are thankfully asymptomatic (showing no symptoms of Covid-19) 
  • We all need to understand and accept that testing of a resident or a staff member only provides a snapshot at a point in time, and some results would be different at any time thereafter 
  • Our CEO, Hein Barnard, reported to CovidCom yesterday that some members of his immediate and extended family have tested positive, and are self-isolating at home. All are asymptomatic. Hein is taking all necessary steps to ensure that he is not exposed, but is isolating himself at home for fourteen days. We have plans in place to deal with this 
  • An additional taxi has been hired, to avoid crowding in the transport which MHA provides for its Frail Care shifts 
  • Encouraging and supporting our wonderful and dedicated staff is even more critical than ever, in these Covid times. MHA is continually seeking ways to achieve this 
  • The Covid-19 virus is now all around our city, escalating daily at a dramatic rate. On 1 May there were 5951 infections and 116 deaths. On 1 June the figures were 33043 infections and 700 deaths. Today the figures are 83890 infections and 1737 deaths All of our hospitals are full. This requires all of us to be even more vigilant than we have been; it is essential that we limit social visits, trips to public places like shops and malls, and that we exercise precautionary behaviours as we have done for the past 85 days and more. This is not a drill; this is war. 


Please continue to keep all members of the MHA family in your daily prayers. In these challenging times we all need support, protection and encouragement; and prayers. 

More reasons to celebrate! 
CovidCom has received a lovely, handwritten letter from Noreen Dymond of Aldersgate. With her permission, we share a slightly edited version (for space purposes!) with you now: 

“This is a letter of Thanksgiving and Thankfulness, firstly to my Lord God and Saviour, and secondly to Methodist Homes for all that has been done for me over the past years. 

2020 is a very special year for me. In March I turned 90, and on 19 June (today!) I celebrate 25 years at Aldersgate. Quite unbelievable! 

My experience with Methodist Homes was quite unique. Although not ready for an ‘old age home’, in December 1994 my husband and I enquired about putting our names down at Wesley Gardens. The waiting list there was 5 years, but building of phase 2 at Aldersgate was underway, with only 3 cottages left. We were given 24 hours to decide; we hadn’t seen a cottage, but only a plan. At church we were told of a missionary who asked God for guidance about whether he should move to another place. God gave him the verse given to Abraham where He told him: ‘It is time or you to pick up your tent and move on’. It was like a gun going off in my head; I got such a fright. Here was my answer! 

We moved in on 19 June 1995, while other cottages were still being built around us. I am so glad I obeyed God’s word. When I look back I see God’s plan for my life and how everything has unfolded. I thank God every night for my beautiful home, village and security. Not having children to help me I am so blessed to have friends here who are willing to help me with shopping and other things. Also for the love and care of Susan and Jannie. 

I feel for you, and pray every day for help and guidance as you seek to look after our needs and security, especially now with this pandemic. Thank you also for the peace and assurance given me that I will be cared for until the lord calls me Home. 

God’s blessings on you and your families, and Methodist Homes” 

Bless you, Noreen. What a beautiful way to start the weekend!! 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #49: FRIDAY 12 JUNE 2020

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+12(L3)=DAY 78 

 Please give a damn 

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" is a line from the 1939 film ‘Gone with the Wind’ starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The line is spoken by Rhett Butler (Gable), as his last words to Scarlett O'Hara (Leigh), in response to her tearful question: "Where shall I go? What shall I do?" Scarlett clings to the hope that she can win him back, but Rhett has finally given up on her and their tumultuous relationship. He’s moving on!! 

With all the racial tension around the death of George Floyd (Black) at the hands of a policeman (White) in the USA, which has spilled over across the world, this iconic film has been withdrawn from at least one major network which the public can access to watch films; they have said that the racial background to the story (read slaves and servants) is inappropriate at this time, and would just add fuel to the ‘race’ fire. On this basis, all of history will have to be re-written which is, of course, impossible. We can’t re-write history; we can only learn from it. 

What is becoming an increasing worry and a crisis is that, in South Africa but especially in our City, there is an attitude about COVID-19 which can probably best be summed up like this: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. Some examples: 

  • Visiting with friends and families is becoming commonplace, and is even bragged about on Facebook or Instagram 
  • A mask is no longer regarded as a life-saving piece of equipment; it is now just a nuisance or a little neck scarf 
  • When people and alcohol mix, common sense seems to go down the drain; street parties, socializing, abuse, accidents 
  • Keeping a safe distance from one another is being ignored (in a photo in today’s Herald, the Provincial Premier and the Transport MEC are in earnest discussion at a funeral; they are literally within kissing range, and no masks!) 


Fortunately there are far more compliant citizens than those who won’t comply, and we must be grateful for this. The above list of examples could fill two pages, but let’s stop here, and get to the point. To borrow from Clark Gable’s famous line: “Frankly, my dears, the Board and Management and CovidCom do give a damn”. Here’s why: 

  • Up to now, the vast majority of MHA residents have been courageous in dealing with Lockdown and everything else never experienced before discipline, and abiding by the laws, rules and regulations, is praiseworthy 
  • CovidCom has put in place all the people, practices, protocols and documents needed to prepare ourselves for war 
  • Hygiene and sanitization practices are world-class, and are maintained 
  • For almost three months we have gone about our daily business, keeping the Coronavirus monster from our doors 
  • So far, so good---or so we thought. 


Suddenly, everything has changed. The virus is no longer knocking at the MHA door; sadly, it is now inside. Two residents recently spent time in hospital and then rehabilitation. One has since returned to a MHA facility. Both residents showed some flu-like symptoms in the past few days and were tested for Covid-19. Both tests are positive; they have the virus. The residents are being professionally handled, and today both have temperatures in the normal range. Using the Standard Operating Procedure manual which we created to guide us through this very nightmare, MHA is managing the situation by adhering to those procedures, to the letter, and to the practices laid down by the Department of Health. 

We knew that this day would come; we just didn’t know when. The past months of preparation and professional nursing/caring practices have paid dividends, but we cannot and will not drop our guard. We remain vigilant; we remain professional; we remain committed. 

What can you, the residents, do to help? Please continue to maintain the healthy behaviours you have embraced, and which don’t need repeating here. 

Please continue to be a part of the solution, not the problem. We’re not even near the middle of the storm yet. 

And yes: please give a damn!! 

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Spare a thought; say a prayer 

Look around you and you will see countless act of courage, humanity, caring, concern for others, and love. It is everywhere! 

As members of the MHA family you live in a supportive, caring community but you may not be aware of some of what is happening beyond your perimeter fences (in a way that’s good, because it indicates that you’re not wandering too far!). 

Today we want to share this with you: 

  • Jenny van Niekerk, our Cassia Gardens Manager, was in a serious motor accident last Saturday. She spent some time in ICU, then a general ward, but has been discharged from hospital and is making a steady recovery, in isolation 
  • The Matron on duty, who took the phone call which told her that a resident had tested positive, had been dreading that day, but she knew it would come at some stage. She was prepared for it; she knew what needed to happen; she did her duty 
  • Spare a thought too for the families of the two residents who were tested positive; they too must have been dreading the day when they might receive a call. The Matron made the call in a compassionate way, and followed up 
  • Our CEO, his Management team and the Matrons are spending exceptionally long hours waging the war against the virus; when they’re not working, they’re worrying, planning, checking, encouraging, and going about their daily tasks too 
  • Our nursing and caring staff are working in circumstances for which only the most basic of training must have been received in the past. They are now proficient at working in a ‘pandemic’ environment, working shift after shift to ensure that the residents in their care are safe, comfortable, warm and loved. We can never thank them enough 
  • Winter is here; it’s dark when most of our staff leave home, and dark when they return home. Let us be mindful of the services delivered by our nursing/caring/cleaning/gardening staff, and let us also be mindful of their families 
  • Some of our residents have family or extended family members who have contracted the virus, and who have had to endure the illness and the uncertainty. Our thoughts should be with those residents and family members too. 


We have so much to be grateful for. 

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We’re back; I’m back!! 

A personal note: As expected, and as planned (as much as one can plan anything nowadays), the past week has been a busy one. I got stuck into other projects which were keeping me awake at night (largely completed), Penny and I sat on a bench and had a sandwich at Schoenies (yes, the sea is still there, and still blue!), and I have done a bit of cooking (a lamb neck curry is bubbling away in the slow-cooker, as I write!). 

As unpredicatable as it is, life goes on. Embrace it! Live it!! 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #48: FRIDAY 05 JUNE 2020

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+5(L3)=DAY 71 

 Wonderful wisdom for the world 

We received an e-mail today from Rev George Irvine, the Founder President of MHA and an Aldersgate resident. We have his permission to share it with you verbatim today: 

The ’10 things’ is by Anna Grace Taylor, followed by some thoughts of my own. 

10 things to remember. 

  1. Love is the answer. Always. (I, George, would want to add tough love.) 
  2. Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s a strength. 
  3. Your body is sacred. Cherish it. 
  4. Gratitude shifts everything. Be thankful. 
  5. Forgiveness sets you free. It really does. 
  6. You cannot change others, only yourself. 
  7. Little acts of kindness are never little. Ever. 
  8. Fun is underrated. Enjoy yourself. 
  9. Age is just a number. It’s never too late. 
  10. Life is precious. Live it now. 


All of the above is true, but I have discovered as a stumbling follower of Jesus that the Cross and the Resurrection live together with us. 

In Isaiah 40. 31 we read: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” It is important to remember that we cannot experience all three at once. Sometimes we soar on wings like eagles. I experienced this at the birth of my children, or at some worship services, or walking towards the sunrise at the beachfront. At other times I have been given strength to keep going without getting tired, but sometimes I am just able to walk without falling over. Many of our residents during lockdown may find themselves in the last category, like I do at the moment, but don’t feel guilty. Make room for suffering and joy to shake hands within you. They belong together and what God has joined together let no person pull asunder. 

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We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves 

The Humanitarian Heartbeat of the MHA family 

BREAKING NEWS: A couple of weeks ago we put out a request for residents to provide support for Ekuphumleni Home for the Aged in Zwide. They were, and are, in desperate need of support for their residents and staff. They shared a ‘wish list’. 

The response has been overwhelming; apart from a large pile of foodstuffs handed in at the Managers’ ofices, a whopping R21,530 in cash has been donated. MHA will add to that kitty. Bless you all! 

Head Office is engaging with a wholesaler to provide all of the required foodstuff, which will be delivered to Ekuphumleni, together with a supply of some of the needed medical/PPE items. 

Photographs and an article will appear on our website, in due course, but we wanted to share this wonderful news with you now. 

The future of the “Newsflash” (I am writing this piece under my own name) 

When I woke up this morning, after a restless night’s sleep, I told my wife Penny that today’s edition would be the last for a few days; I was going to take an extra long weekend break, until say Wednesday or Thursday next week. Apart from serving on the MHA Board, working closely with the CEO and his team, and chairing CovidCom, I have two other exacting post-retirement jobs, as well as a loving and tolerant wife, all demanding my quality time and attention. 

I shared this with our CEO, Hein, who in turn shared it with his Managers. It was been decided that, after this edition #48, a Newsflash will be published every Friday, until the need no longer exists. So, I’m taking a break! Unfortunately I cannot afford the time to snooze on a park bench! 

I come from a business environment where the general belief was that one can never over-communicate; keep your staff, clients and suppliers fully informed, and in that way one eliminates confusion, rumours, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and fear of the unknown. This is what CovidCom has tried to achieve over the past 10 weeks of Lockdown. From all of the written and verbal feedback gratefully received, it is evident that the objective has, for the most part, been successful; residents and staff have been told, on a daily basis, what was happening in keeping the COVID-19 monster from our doors; the material shared in an endeavour to uplift spirits apparently did the trick; lots of advice was given, and there was a smattering of entertainment and humour to help get you through the day. Some content caused huge offence to a handful of people, who expressed their view, in no uncertain terms. They were entitled to their opinions and interpretation, but it didn’t in any way influence the decision to cut back on the Newsflash. 

If and when there is significant news to share with residents, an urgent Newsflash will be issued, on an ad hoc basis. Our Managers will also share news with residents and staff, as necessary. 

Our country, our city, our community and CovidCom still have massive challenges ahead, in waging the war against the enemy we cannot see (other than under a microscope). I will continue to be a part of the team which is dedicated to keeping 570 residents and 112 staff safe and healthy. All I ask is for you to share the responsibility by looking after yourself and your neighbour, and for you to work with those dedicated to your welfare, not against. 

May God continue to bless South Africa and its people----and MHA. Malcolm 

********** 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray) 

 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #46: THURSDAY 04 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+3(L3)=DAY 69 


Musings of a Recycled Teenager: 

CovidCom has received this lovely article from Sandi Osborne, retired (?!) teacher and a fairly recent arrival at Maranatha Village. We have her permission to share it with you today: 

When I made it known that I was moving into a retirement cottage at Maranatha, my announcement was met by a myriad of emotions ranging from hysterical laughter to genuine concerns that I had, finally, lost the plot. 

There is an enormous difference between being alone and being lonely. I love my alone time and freedom. But I’m never lonely. I have taken a year of my life to start again. Life indeed, begins at 60. 

I am loving every second of lockdown. I read myself stupid, eat whenever I feel like it, sleep at my leisure and generally lead a hedonistic life. Bliss!!! I have created a beautiful rockery, painted my outside table, I have made 35 anklets and bracelets, and 8 mosaic crosses of varying sizes. I’ve surfed the net and created worksheets and notes for my kids, and purchased a classical guitar. But the best has been my teaching. 

I returned to the classroom after 17 months of retirement. It was only supposed to be for 3 weeks. Yeah, right! I’m now back in the classroom and thriving. Teaching is my passion. During lockdown I have had wi-fi installed, upgraded my tablet and computer, and am now a whizz at technology. 

It is mind-blowing when you can sit at home, click a button, and your pupils can all see you and talk to you. I can see and hear them all, and lessons continue. The programme which I use allows me to load any document, notes, exercises or exam paper onto the screen and chat my way through the lesson using any and every resource that I have, including text books. I can highlight words, change fonts and colours, upload music, screen video footage, and annotate without pausing for breath. 

The reaction of my pupils has been so inspiring. I taught my entire Matric Poetry syllabus during lockdown. My Grade 11 pupils completed Macbeth with me, and my Grade 10s finished the prescribed novel. My pupils all wrote a test every Friday. Comments such as “Ma’am it’s so cool writing my test at home” or “I’m in my jammies, lying in bed, drinking a cup of coffee and writing my test.” Another responded, “Mrs Osborne I just love that we can work at our own pace. I finished all my week’s English over 3 days, and now I’m going to tackle my maths for 2 days.” 

This remote teaching thing works. The kids are happy. This is the way to go. 

Input and feedback from the MHA family: 

The old adage “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” crops up all the time in life, but it seems to have grown another head during these Coronavirus times. People all over the world are generally not coping well with the uncertainty, frustration, fear and personal misery being heaped on them as consequences of the pandemic. We are all having to find new ways of coping. Being critical of or angry with others is not the way; being tolerant and supporting each other is. We continue to receive many bouquets via e-mail, and we also receive both constructive and destructive criticism; that’s life, and we need to deal with it all in such a way that our ‘customers’ (you!) are satisfied, and that the business and our reputation remain intact. 

Our CEO and/or CovidCom members do their best to deal with the complaints and frustrations which are directed their way. There is no manual or website which has prepared or taught anyone how to deal with the array of challenges presented to a business by the Coronavirus. This dilemma applies to MHA too. If any member of the MHA family, whether a resident, employee or a concerned family member or friend, is concerned about anything which the organization is or isn’t doing in line with its Mission and its commitments, please bring it to the urgent attention of the CEO, and preferably in writing. All MHA’s resources are being stretched and tested right now, and MHA asks for your co-operation in getting all of us through this COVID-19 nightmare. 

************* 

Let us close today with some light relief. It is worth mentioning that both these cartoons were published in mid-March 2020, well before the 2019 version of Coronavirus became a global pandemic, and was called COVID-19. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---and enjoy some more freedom from Monday!!) 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #46: WEDNESDAY 03 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+3(L3)=DAY 69 

Obfuscation is everywhere!! 

Today’s issue of The Herald (no, not the one shown left), which many of you will have read or skimmed though, provides us with enough confusion, obfuscation and rumour-mongering fodder to last us through to Christmas. Without being accused of nitpicking, or being in any way critical of our country’s Commander-in-Chief, let’s unpack a few bits and pieces (some comments are deadly serious, one requires your co-operation and commitment--see page 2 of this Newsflash--and a couple are aimed at brightening your day!): 


  • The Lockdown rules and regulations promulgated by Cogta Minister Dlamini-Zuma have been declared by a High Court as being “unconstitutional and invalid”. Almost 60 million South Africans have endured varying levels of hardship and sacrifice for 69 days, and we now get told this?! It is highly unlikely that those millions of people who have lost their jobs, lost businesses, lost an academic year, lost loved ones, lost their dignity, or have gone to bed hungry, will take any comfort out of this, neither should they hold their collective breaths. By the time that Government has studied the judgment, launched an appeal, and for it to be heard in court, everything will have changed dramatically anyway. It is highly likely (the personal view of your scribe, by the way: E&OE, Ts & Cs apply!) that the masses will increasingly ignore the phased Lockdown approach via levels, many of the rules and regulations imposed by Government will fall apart (whether or not the appeal is successful), social distancing will quickly become an obsolete phrase and behaviour, and the COVID-19 virus will spread like a mid-summer bushfire. But all is not doom and gloom; tobacco products will shortly be back on the shop shelves 
  • Sticking with that subject, Minister Dlamini-Zuma continues to defend her ban on tobacco products, contending that the ban would result in a ‘sizeable number’ of South Africans quitting the habit, and that ’the poor and youth are particularly likely to quit’. If that wasn’t enough entertainment for one day, she also said that the only way to deal decisively with the illicit cigarette trade was to ensure that the demand for cigarettes was reduced. Wrong! The way to deal with any illicit trade is to cut off the supplier and the customer; hunt down and lock up the culprits. Perhaps the Minister would like to add Poaching to her portfolio? Put this whole subject into some perspective: The tobacco industry in SA contributes more than R8 billion in excise duty and VAT to the government per annum, and private consumer spending on tobacco is approximately R12 billion per annum. Maybe the Cogta Minister could enlighten the population by telling us what percentage of that is attributable to the ‘poor and youth’?! The major spend and resultant tax comes from ‘the others’, the vast majority. Smokers who can afford to smoke will smoke, or give up the habit, of their own free will, not through the whim of a cabinet Minister who happens to have MBChB behind her name 
  • It may not have been important to whoever is responsible at The Herald for content and layout, but only on page 4 do we get told that “Up to 80% in (Eastern Cape) province likely to get Covid-19”. The report that 80% are expected to present mild symptoms and only 5% would need high care is hardly comforting. Your scribe only got an F+ for Maths in matric in the 1960s but, on the basis that there are 7 million people in the Eastern Cape, Premier Mabuyane and his Health Department officials are potentially facing 5.6 million infections. Even if 4.48 million Oos-Kaapenaars (80% of the 80%!) will only present mild symptoms, they will still be carriers of the virus. Or is the maths and logic wrong?! 


MHA’s stance on Visitors and Domestics 

CovidCom hopes that it has displayed at least two critical behaviours since COVID-19 became “headline news” in SA in early March: 

1. As a responsible and compliant organization, which cares deeply about its mission and its responsibilities, MHA will comply with and adhere to all of the rules and regulations set from time to time by Government, via the Disaster Management Act and subsequent Gazettes 

2. MHA will apply its own rules and regulations, in addition or as a variation, in order to safeguard residents and staff. 


Up to today, the steps taken to manage the coming pandemic have proved to be successful, and we thank God that we can say that. Staff and residents, and their families, have been hugely tolerant and accepting of the situation. We are, however, reaching a point where virtually everyone is becoming impatient or intolerant, and this can lead to dropping our guard, individaully or as an organization. We cannot afford to do that! 

Today’s news, highlighted on page 1, doesn’t help either. A couple of residents have expressed the opinion that, if Lockdown, is ‘unconstitutional and invalid’, then they are going to bring their private domestic employees back to work, or have demanded that the MHA domestics return to work. In this regard, CovidCom needs to share the following with all residents and the MHA family: 

  • We cannot and will not see all the good work done thus far come to nothing 
  • The full force of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t even got going yet. Using a weather analogy, we are experiencing a fresh wind at present; the gale and then the destructive tornado are still to come, over the next three months or more 
  • As has been reported in an earlier Newsflash, and at the AGMs in March, the CEO and his Management team are urgently reviewing the whole subject of Domestic employees; it is a complicated matter, which requires research, consultation and sensitivity. Please regard this as urgent work in progress 
  • No Domestic worker, whether employed privately or by MHA, is allowed to enter any MHA facility, other than the Frail Cares and Bedsitters. No exceptions will be made, and residents are urged to comply with this decision 
  • The decisions taken by CovidCom in mid-March to lock down our facilities has undoubtedly been the right one; we have thus far been infection-free 
  • Regarding visitors, para 40 of the Disaster Managenent Act, as amended on 28 May 2020, clearly states that: “Visits by members of the public to---older residents’ facilities---are prohibited”. MHA’s own rules support this; no visitors are currently allowed into any MHA facility. 


Please rest assured that CovidCom is continually reviewing the matter of Domestics and Visitors; along with a myriad other issues. We ask for your support and your compliance, as we go about this. 

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This Lockdown business is heavy stuff; it’s taking its toll on everyone, in one or more ways. The chopping and changing, and some poor decision-making, on the part of Government isn’t helping either. Sometimes we just need to sit back and laugh about it---or cry. 

But remember this: we are not alone. Never more than right now is the expression “living in community” more relevant, more precious. Whether you are a grumpy resident or an exhausted member of staff, we are all in this mess together, and we will get out of it together. These two bits of wise advice may be of comfort to you today: 

Words from Philippians 2: Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had 

 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #45: TUESDAY 02 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+2(L3)=DAY 68 

 Coping with the challenges of COVID-19 

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 18.51.47

The MHA family is blessed with having Charné Eaton as a resource to turn to, as an involved team member, especially in these tumultuous Coronavirus times. She is a Social Worker in private practice, and she has been involved for some while, providing support, encouragement and a professional listening ear to the MHA Management team who, as readers will appreciate, have stressful and demanding jobs, even more so as they deal with the challenges thrown at them daily in coping with the pandemic. They are each coping as best they can right now, with what is in their control, and they are tapping into their unique strengths which enable them to keep on.....keeping on. Here’s to all of the Managers in MHA, and to Charné----take a well-deserved bow!!! 

With Charné’s permission, we share with you today some of the (edited) words of encouragement which she has recently shared with the Managers, via e-mail. Her wisdom may also resonate with residents, the other staff, and with the wider MHA family who receive the daily Newsflash: 

  • These COVID-19 times call for everyone to come together in finding creative, healthy and safe solutions to help deal with whatever one is faced with; some days are easier than others and some conversations are easier than others; emotions may fluctuate a lot, depending on the different scenarios you are dealing with and, very importantly, how you are managing your thoughts and your responses 
  • Consider your thought processes when you feel loss and change. This pandemic is most certainly a time of crisis for everyone, however more so for some than for others; we are all in the same storm, however in different boats! 
  • For many individuals and families, their circumstances prior to the Covid-19 outbreak were already very unsettled and in crisis, leading to even further distress and worry 
  • We are called to be courageous and keep perspective as we face each day with the goal of doing what we can, within our control, with lots of support and love for, as well as from, others 
  • Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, believes that if we want to find opportunity in a time of crisis, it is absolutely appropriate and necessary to focus on the bad things now and then; allowing ourselves time to think about the bad situations, giving ourselves time to ventilate how we feel, giving ourselves time to cry 
  • The best way to deal with this trauma is through human relationships, by asking for help and by offering help; to call friends who are living alone and to let them know you are thinking of them and to actually just 'sit on the phone' for a while 
  • We can all agree that we were never meant to be socially isolated. More importantly, it is so natural in our human interactions to have physical touch when greeting one another; hugs, hand shaking, a touch to express warmth and care. The current pandemic forces us to refrain from what is part of us. It takes time to work at this and accept it for now. Just because we might be socially distancing does not automatically follow that one will be feeling lonely. Isolation, however, can most definitely lead to a deep sense of loneliness, especially those who are most vulnerable. 


Charné then posed the following question to the Managers: What can we all do to encourage individuals to remain connected in order to prevent a sense of disconnect that could potentially cause a sense of deep loneliness and despair? She has used the word ‘CONNECT’ as an acronym, to share some thoughts and reminders on the importance of maintaining interpersonal connection in different ways, for the sake of emotional well-being. We can all learn from these wise words! 

CONNECT: 

CREATE opportunity to connect in different ways. Connect by taking existing relationships online and communicate via your computer or the telephone, WhatsApp video calls, exchanging voice notes etc. Many may have been doing so for a while now; share your creative ideas with others 
OPENLY approach people to ask for help. Be honest with yourself about your need for help. At the same time, offer help. Needing support is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign that we are part of the human family! 
NETWORKING with support and resources available. Try to maintain existing connections and find ways to build new ones in this time. Look out for any new ways to connect with others in your community who wish to help 
NOTICE potentially concerning physical symptoms: difficulty sleeping, feeling on high alert for possible threats, and having more tension and stress in your body. If you are experiencing physical symptoms that cause you distress, it is particularly important to reach out for support, and encourage others to be brave to reach out when they need it 
ENGAGE in healthy habits at home (quiet times, uplifting music, etc); thinking in the short-term (today, this week, this month) rather than the longer-term. Strategies for staying in the moment include mindfulness and breathing techniques, or planning something every day to look forward to (eg. a phone call, watching a good movie, meal preparation, etc) 
CHOOSE to focus on the positive – what do you have that’s important to you and that you want to keep doing? Choose to re-ignite an interest or a craft as a means to distract and provide a sense of purpose right now. Choose activities within the home that distract you or are self-soothing. Choose to empower yourself; discover your ability to tap into your strengths 
TALK about your worries. The stigma of loneliness may be reduced at the moment, given the extreme circumstances, and it may be easier for people to talk about how they’re feeling. People need reassurance. Talking helps. 

Charné ends off: Keep well and stay safe and remember these words: 
“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible” 
(Saint Francis of Assisi) 

As a valuable MHA resource, over and above the services offered by our Professional Nurse/Counsellor and our Volunteer Counsellor, Charné would be available to residents who may feel in need of speaking to her. Please liaise with your Manager in this regard. 

*********** 

Some more wonderful feedback, gratefully received by CovidCom, has been the following: 
Thank you for all the work that has gone into looking after the residents of the Methodist Homes, but it is not only that. You have cared enough to plan a first class service, even if not all realize it. I have been tremendously impressed, particularly when I compare it with what has happened in so-called first world countries. Please also give our thanks to all of the staff of Methodist Homes. We hope this will be some encouragement to you. Yours in His name too. 

**** 

Cassia Gardens residents would like to express their appreciation to the CovidCom for allowing us to open the Library again. It has been a busy week with residents being able to borrow books, DVDs and Jigsaw Puzzles. 

************ 

Be at peace, not in pieces 

************* 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---and feel for those with an empty ashtray!!) 

 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #44: MONDAY 01 JUNE 2020 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+1(L3)=DAY 67 


 CovidCom is down on its knees 

The CEO Hein Barnard and I are writing this under our joint names, in the hope that it will resonate more loudly than something written under the broad “we” banner. 

This is really not the ideal way to start a new week and a new month, and to herald in Lockdown Level 3, but sadly it needs to be done. Here goes: generally speaking, to be “down on one's knees” means begging someone for something, hoping for a positive result, thanks to that humble and kind of extreme act. In terms of seeking residents’ co-operation in complying with our Government’s and CovidCom’s Lockdown rules and regulations, the majority of MHA residents have embraced them and complied, because they intellectually understand the magnitude of the pandemic coming our way. Our gratitude is enormous. Sadly, others have chosen to be disrespectful, negligent, selfish, or just bloody-minded. Fact. 

Via the daily Newsflash, the Board and Management of MHA, via CovidCom, have requested, begged, implored, cajoled and used every other synonym imaginable to get residents to do the sensible thing; reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering our facilities, by acting responsibly. Some learned residents have provided material for Newsflashes, trying their different approaches to achieve what CovidCom has been trying to achieve: co-operation, and compliance with the rules. Failed. 

It is evident that some MHA residents are wired in one or more of the following ways: they resent authority; they do as they wish; they have a death wish; they don’t understand what responsibility is about; they truly believe that God will protect them from the virus, just on the basis that they are believers; rules are there to be broken; #$&% the government; or they do not care about the value of living in community, or the spirit of protecting and watching over one another. Those ‘square pegs’ come and go as they please; they allow visitors (mainly family) into a MHA facility on the pretext of needing an urgent repair done to something or because they think that only they are the lonely or needy ones; they abuse the rules to suit their selfish needs; and they are blatantly putting other lives at risk. Tragic. 

Here are four brutal facts, primarily aimed at those ‘heroes’ who refuse to comply: 

1. Learn from the Italy experience. Its leaders and its people didn’t listen to others, who warned that measures to isolate areas and limit the movement of the population needed to be taken early, put in place with absolute clarity, then strictly enforced. Italian authorities fumbled the early steps to halt the contagion; when it mattered most they instead tried to preserve basic civil liberties as well as the economy. Some officials gave in to magical thinking, reluctant to make painful decisions sooner. All the while, the virus fed on that complacency. They failed, and they failed the people; over 33000 Italians have died. An official from their Health Ministry said “Every day you close a bit, you give up on a bit of normal life. Because the virus does not allow normal life.” 

2. The COVID-19 pandemic is here. Please take your head out of the sand for just long enough to look around you. It knocked on the door of Maranatha Frail Care on Friday. A member of the morning shift arrived for work, showing some flu-like symptoms (yes, we know that she should have stayed at home, but she heard duty call); her temperature was elevated, so she was sent away for testing, which cost MHA R850. The results came back this morning: negative. While we all breathe a sigh of relief, it is cold comfort today; COVID-19 has hit a psychiatric facility in Kirkwood, which accommodates over 600 patients. Some deaths have already been reported. Please pray for everyone there. 

3. The numbers speak for themselves: on 1 March there was just 1 case of infection in our country; on 1 April it was 1380 infections/5 deaths; on 1 May 5951/116; by the time you read this Newsflash today, 1 June, the figures will be around 33000 infections/700 deaths. There has been a 12% increase just over this past weekend. 

The infection rate is going to continue to escalate even more dramatically; actuarial models don’t all produce the same projections, but it is apparent that, by mid-winter, SA could be dealing with 8000 new infections per day, with 500 deaths per day, and that will just be known statistics. SA has a huge rural population, where reporting of cases is slow, or even absent. Members of the MHA family don’t need reminding which sector of the population remains the most vulnerable. Do the Maths. Scary. 

4. Hein and I ask all residents this: do you want to be a part of the solution, or a part of the problem? The Board, Management and CovidCom all have a duty to protect our residents and staff, whatever it takes. We are doing this, and successfully so far, for which we thank God, and we are so grateful to the majority who have protected themselves and one another, and worked with us. In particular we are grateful for the Bedsitter folk; they have been locked in since late March, not going out, or visitors allowed in. Frail Care residents have also had no visitors since mid-March. We will not allow the selfish minority to undo all of this good work, and potentially decimate the MHA community; residents, staff and others. Take heed. 

Let us close with an appropriate quote from scripture, and a final comment: 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind 
2 Timothy 1:7 

Yes, this is a fear-full time in history, and in our lives. We have many reasons to be afraid, but as many reasons to be positive and courageous and thankful. Let us all stand together; powerful in words, deeds and actions; loving in the ways we look out for and protect one another; using common sense and responsible behaviour. May God bless South Africa, and may He continue to bless and protect the MHA family. 

Hein Barnard                                                             Malcolm Stewart 
Chief Executive Officer                                              Director, and CovidCom Chairman 

************* 

More positive feedback received at CovidCom HQ: 

I write to let you know just how much I appreciate the Newsflash that appears in my box daily. It undoubtedly takes time and a lot of effort to put something together for us, to keep us focused and encouraged, and to motivate the unmotivated! 

The recent comment regarding the taxi driver with an over-loaded taxi seems to have done the trick for some of us. Bright and early this morning, at first light, I saw someone who I have never seen wearing a mask doing just that; all masked like the majority of us! So, be encouraged, the Newsflash is getting through to us. In these days of isolation it is sometimes difficult to be up-beat, but there usually is something in the Newsflash that makes me laugh, and I appreciate that, and look forward to it. 

Thank you for having our best interests at heart; all of MHA Management, I salute you! There seems to be no end to the amount of trouble and expense you’ll go to for us, the residents. Some of us have had to look out for ourselves for a very long time; now having MHA looking out for us is indeed a great blessing, and at the same time very humbling. In September 2019 I moved in, and have loved every moment of it. I am exceedingly grateful to be a resident of this haven. It feels like yesterday that I moved here, and yet eight months have already gone by. I sometimes marvel at just how fast time passes by. 

At the wedding at Cana the very best wine was kept for last; our Lord has indeed kept the best for me for last! 

Please convey my thanks and appreciation to all of your colleagues. 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #43: FRIDAY 29 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+28=64 


 MHA’s newest Centenarian!! 

MHA celebrates with the family and friends of Edith Stock, who turns 100 tomorrow, 30 May 2020!!! 

Edith just missed the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920, she survived the Great Depression, she survived WWII, she was married to Doug for 62 years and had four children, and Edie (also affectionately known as ‘Kiewietjie’, because of her thin legs!) is blessed with seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. 

Yet, just short of hitting her 100th run, Coronavirus came and rain stopped play! Her family have always gathered at van Stadens River Mouth to celebrate important occasions; after celebrating her 99th there last year, the family set about organizing a bumper party there for tomorrow. Sadly this cannot happen during Lockdown, and so arrangements had to be cancelled. 

Growing up in PE, Edie says she had a simple but happy childhood; she was never good at sport due to her small build, but she enjoyed running, and so she was the one who always got sent to the shops by her Mom and even other parents! 

Edie worked for most of her married life, and she moved to Maranatha Village in 2002, where she became a very active and industrious member of that community. She moved to Maranatha Frail Care in 2018. 

A dear Maranatha friend of Edie’s, Pam shapiro, has submitted this tribute: 

“Our dearly beloved Edie Stock has to be the Maranatha Frail Care Flavour of May, as she turns 100!! We are all very proud of her; always smart, she wears a pair of size 3 black patent leather shoes as she walks briskly, using either her walking stick or 3-wheeled Ferrari!! Praise our Lord” 

Edie has shared her recipe for a long life: 

  • keep life simple 
  • most important, be sensible 


Her advice is to move to Frail Care in good time; she has been very happy at Maranatha Village and Frail Care, and has no regrets about her decision to move from her cottage to Frail Care. 

Congratulations Edie, from the entire MHA family. We know that you are a compassionate person, always putting others before yourself, and we are sure that you are disappointed that the gathering of your clan cannot take place right now. We will put the 100 candles aside, and we will bake a cake when we get a chance to celebrate in style!! Keep well, keep safe. 

*********** 

Thanks, and some useful advice from a resident: 

Thank you so much for all the information to which we're being allowed access. PE is VERY short of water, so here's a hint for all "inmates": Instead of hand washing for 20 seconds, wet them, turn off the tap, soap and thoroughly wash hands for the required 20 seconds, then rinse off. Do the same in the shower. Thank you to all staff and Managers.  


*********** 

URGENT: Domestic Cleaners and Gardeners 

Countrywide, employees providing domestic services are permitted to resume work, in terms of Lockdown Level 3. This has been confirmed by the President and others during the past few days. 

However, because of the unique circumstances facing organizations such as MHA, CovidCom has decided that NO domestic employees, whether employed by MHA or employed privately by a resident, will be allowed back to work on 1 June 2020, and probably for the forseeable future. This ruling also applies to gardeners employed by residents (refer Newsflash #42). 

We wish to assure all residents that CovidCom is reviewing this issue on a daily basis. We are acutely aware that some residents need and want their domestic helper and/or their private gardener to return to work, and we are equally aware that many residents are opposed to such workers returning during the pandemic. We are also mindful that those employees have been without income since Lockdown. 

The MHA Board, Management and CovidCom have a duty to do everything possible to prevent COVID-19 from entering any one of our eleven facilities, and one way to achieve that is to limit and control entry to our facilities by outsiders. In recent days we have been challenged by a few folk, with questions like: 

  • If you are allowing the MHA-employed gardeners and gardening/lawnmowing service organizations to return on 1 June, why can’t our own private gardeners return? 
  • You have had MHA-employed cleaners at work in the Frail Cares and Bedsitters since Lockdown, so why can’t the MHA cottage cleaners or our own private cleaners return to work on 1 June? 


In both cases, and generally, our response is as follows: 

  • MHA has the equipment and the protocols in place to test every employee at the commencement of work, on at least a daily basis. MHA staff will carry out these tests on every MHA employee and on every employee of a contracted service provider, and the results will be recorded via a daily Employee Screening questionnaire 
  • Each gardener is being provided with a mask and a face screen 
  • The majority of our employees travel to/from work in private transport (privately owned, or hired by MHA), and thereby have reduced exposure to others using public transport. 


We have 570 residents, 112 staff and a large business entity to consider, in everything that we propose, decide, say or do. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting the Board, Management, CovidCom and staff with a vast array of challenges which no textbook or seminar has ever prepared us for. We are learning as we travel down Pandemic Road. It is worth quoting what the President said recently: “In fact, the risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than it has been since the start of the outbreak in our country”. 

Our country, our city and the MHA organization have huge challenges ahead of us. The pandemic is about to hit us with great ferocity, and we are making decisions on a daily basis to be ready. Please work with us, not against us, as we continue to make bold, sometimes unpopular, decisions. 

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Did you get it?! 

In yesterday’s Newsflash we challenged you to decipher this: FUNEX? SVFX FUNEM? SFVM OKMNX 

It is attributed to The Two Ronnies (Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett), two wonderfully talented British comedians from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The video sketch was titled ‘Swedish made simple’ and featured a restaurant patron ordering from the maître d’hôtel. What unfolds on screen is spelt out by the ‘alphabet’ sub-titles and verbal translation, as follows: 

FUNEX?          Have you any eggs? 

SVFX               Yes, we have eggs. 

FUNEM?          Have you any ham? 

SVFM               Yes, we have ham. 

OKMNX            Ok. Ham and eggs. 

CovidCom apologizes to any readers who were annoyed by this! 


 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #42: THURSDAY 28 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+27=63 

 

 COURAGE 

The powerful message which we share with you today is a slightly edited version of yesterday’s Midweek Devotions shared electronically with members of the Newton Park Methodist Church by Rev Rowan Rogers. We received permission from Rowan to use (and slightly edit, for space purposes!) his message, for which we are most grateful: 

Deuteronomy 31.6 says to us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”. These words are much loved, but we should remember that they were the preface to a war! 

We often think of courage as conquering; of triumph; of vanquishing something or someone. The word ‘courage’ actually means ‘an act of the heart’. So it is deeply courageous not to retaliate when someone has harmed you. To forgive must surely be one of the greatest acts of the heart. 

There is great tension across the world; we’re not coping. We are all fraying at the edges. Just in this city alone we are not coping well with Lockdown; behavior generally seems to be at Level ‘Do Whatever You Like’! Some of the greatest courage we can show in these days is to keep behaving in a way which protects ourselves and others as best we can. It takes courage to love each other well. 

Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, said: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. We must recognize that the virus is not going away right now; it is a situation we cannot change. It therefore requires that we change ourselves; that we keep championing the practices which keep one another safe. 

Today, don’t think of courage in the language of winning; triumph; victory. Instead, think of courage as the willingness to let go; that your great act of the heart is to say: “I am at the end of my rope, or pretty darn close to it”! Dallas Willard said: “God’s address is at the end of your rope”. Real courage is formed in the lives of those who quietly suffer, often unknown; who have found a strength beyond their own; and who quietly endure deep personal pain, with great grace. 

This Coronavirus pandemic is producing thousands and thousands of courageous people. Lord, please be with those especially today who are nearing the end of their rope. Help them to know deeply in their hearts that that is where you live. Help them to hear your gentle whisper that you are with them, and that you will never leave them, or abandon them. 

Men and women of courage: we not only pray with you, we salute you! Remember always the promise: the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. 

**** 

May God richly bless you, Rowan, for the gifts of courage and strength which members of the MHA family will receive today, via your uplifting words. 

*********** 

“I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” 

(Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, Catholic nun and missionary, honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta) 

The Herald: Thursday 28 May 2020: 

Approximately 75 copies of The Herald are delivered to subscribers across our Villages every morning, and are then shared among friends and neighbours. So the daily readership is probably 200 or more. With that in mind, there is no point in news just being regurgitated in a Newsflash; CovidCom might instead merely refer to an article, and provide an appropriate comment. 

Take today’s issue, as an example. The virus has now hit a second Frail Care facility; you are aware of Lorraine Frail Care Centre, but it is now also in Gelvan Park Frail Aged Home. There is no doubt that both of these organizations do not have the extent of the financial and other resources which MHA has, in order to fight this war. We should, however, always remember that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate or choose by way of colour, class, possessions, medical aid, extent of preparedness, or any similar yardstick. Also, COVID-19 doesn’t invade on its own; it is let in the door, carried by a person into a home, a school, a hospital, a shop, a retirement facility. Please pray for everyone at the Gelvan Park and Lorraine homes. 

By the time that you read this Newsflash, the population at large may have heard more on how Minister Dlamini-Zuma feels about the vexed question around how much extra exposure smokers have to COVID-19, and how they would swamp hospital ICU’s and wards. In the meantime SARS continues to lose billions of Rands in lost duties and taxes, while the crime syndicates who own the illicit cigarette trade continue to make billions of Rands. To complicate matters, the Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, has allegedly said today that cigarette sales will return in Level 2. Simple logic tells us that by that time the use of “zols” will have increased exponentially, and would probably contain ‘wacky backy’ instead of conventional tobacco. Infections generally will have also increased exponentially by then; smokers and non-smokers, drinkers and non-drinkers; young and old; rich and poor, fit and flabby. South Africans are generally an intelligent, responsible lot, and we are relying on sound leadership at the top of government to get us through the pandemic. 

All shall be revealed, in the fullness of time. 

*********** 

More clarity on gardening services: 

It was confirmed in Tuesday’s Newsflash (#40) that MHA’s team of gardeners will return to work on 1 June, and that residents must please refrain from asking a favour of a MHA gardener to carry out any private activity. MHA’s contracted gardening service providers will also return on 1 June. 

Residents are again reminded that NO gardener (whether employed by MHA or contracted to MHA) must be requested to carry out any private work at any time, either before or during or after their normal working hours. This ruling is for your safety. CovidCom will be reviewing the situation regarding the employment and use of private gardeners by residents, and a further announcement will be made in due course. 

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FUNEX? 

SVFX 

FUNEM? 

SFVM 

OKMNX 

Make any sense to anyone? It has nothing to do with the cartoon. 


We will explain tomorrow!!! 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #41: WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+26=62 

 

Outbreak: 29 test positive for Covid-19 at the Lorraine Frail Care Centre 

This very sad news has been reported on the internet today via the Daily Maverick, and on AlgoaFM. The incident has occurred at the Lorraine Frail Care, which is run by Life Esidimeni, part of the Life Healthcare group, and currently accommodates 118 residents. Despite being under strict lockdown since the beginning of March, 10 staff members and 19 patients have tested positive for Covid-19, and one has died. 

The report carries comments about the Centre’s response in arranging testing, in isolating infected residents, in dealing with infected staff, and in notifying family of the outbreak. MHA should not and will not comment on these issues; instead, as the MHA family we should hold in prayer that Centre, its residents, its staff, and all affected family. This is a terrible time. 

CovidCom will closely monitor this developing story, and we will learn from the Centre’s experiences and responses. We will also continue to sharpen our weapons daily. We will have more on that to share with readers over the next few days. In the meantime, please continue to be vigilant, compliant, supportive, prayer-full, and keep yourselves safe and well. 

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Lockdown Level 3: Implementation of new regulations 

The required Government Gazette giving effect to the changes has still not been issued, and here’s the reason why: the National Coronavirus Command Council has postponed its media briefing scheduled for 12h30 today, at which it was going to shed light on the implementation of the new regulations. Without being disrespectful, let us speculate that there is a huge amount of disagreement within the ranks of the Command Council, mainly to do with ‘power games’ involving the usual suspects, each one trying to justify his/her existence, and stance on a matter (liquor, tobacco, school readiness, public transport, or where and when to get a cheap haircut). 

And here’s more speculation: Public Enemy #1 (in the eyes of smokers anyway!) is going to attempt to restore some shine to her crown by announcing that cigarettes will, after all, be back on the shop shelves from Monday 1 June. Watch this space!! 

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The Herald: front-page news on Tuesday 2 June 2020 

After being deprived of their favourite alcoholic drink for 66 days during Lockdown, from yesterday South Africans are again allowed to buy stock from their local bottle stores. The retail outlets are only open Mondays to Wednesdays, from 09h00 to 13h00. 

So it was not surprising that yesterday witnessed long queues, a total lack of social distancing, frustrated shoppers surging into the stores despite the half-hearted efforts of security personnel to restrict numbers at any one time, and rampant theft and shop-lifting. In some areas there were reports of wide-scale looting of liquor shops, and hijacking of delivery trucks. The police and the army would have been overwhelmed, had any been in evidence as the mayhem unfolded. 

Reporters spoke to many of the frustrated shoppers, and got these stories: 

  • My constitutional rights were being imbinged, so I’m pleased that the ban has been lifted 
  • I just couldn’t beer it any longer 
  • I’m just pleased that these stores can ginerate revenue again 
  • I miss my wife so much since she’s been gone; she’s in the queue at Makro 
  • I hate queueing, but I must just grin and beer it 
  • I queued from 03h00; I was going to go home and climb back into bed, but I just Preston 
  • I feel for the oldies who were in the queue; they were bewildered, and one old man even lost aperitif 
  • Once we’ve got our stock, perhaps my husband will stop moaning and start wining 
  • One moment we were standing near to the door, when suddenly we were just schwepped aside 
  • One shady customer was caught stealing; store security Branded him a criminal, and Whisked him away 

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Back to the serious stuff, the ‘useless information’ department! You will probably all know that liquor comes in bottles of various shapes and sizes, but do you know that they all have descriptive names?! Here they are: 



COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #40: TUESDAY 26 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+25=61 


 Lockdown Level 3 (effective 1 June 2020): 

In yesterday’s Newsflash we said that we’d make further comment about Level 3 in today’s edition. In terms of substance, or cause for celebration, we’re about to disappoint you! 

Since Lockdown was imposed 61 days ago, CovidCom has been consistent in two specific areas: MHA would not disobey any rules and regulations set by Government in terms of the Disaster Management Act and the various Gazettes issued, and that we would constantly look for areas in which we could have some degree of flexibility in the interpretation of the laid-down rules; in this latter regard, the MHA rules around residents being able to exercise within the Village grounds is a prime example. No laws were broken and, as far as we know, no one was arrested! 

The reason why CovidCom doesn’t have much to comment on regarding Level 3 is because the Government Gazette which will spell out what is allowed/still not allowed in Level 3 has not yet been published (as at noon today!). As happened when Level 4 was announced by the President in late April, there might still be some subsequent changes to what he has already told the nation about Level 3; don’t hold your breath that any one of the Ministers seeking another 15 minutes of fame (Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs, or Police, or Transport) will add or subtract some critical bits and pieces to displease (or please?) the public at large. Watch this space! 

What we can share with the MHA family now is the following: 

  • Domestic services: CovidCom confirms that house-cleaning services by MHA domestic staff or via privately employed people is still not permitted at any MHA Village; the threat of COVID-19 infection from any incoming service provider is something that MHA cannot effectively manage in any way other than to deny them entry to our Villages and the residents’ cottages (as is currently the case with visitors). 
  • The future provision of a domestic cleaning service to MHA Village residents is a significant and complicated matter which is currently under serious review. Our 16 ‘domestic cleaning’ employees have been paid in full since March, but the current scenario cannot continue indefinitely. Other factors in the mix are obligations in terms of many Life Right contracts in force, and the demand for these services amongst residents. Research in this regard is underway, and residents will be consulted before any decision is taken. In the meantime, we hope that residents generally are coping well with their housekeeping chores 
  • Gardening services: MHA’s team of gardeners will return to work on 1 June. Especially after the beautiful rain which we are experiencing, the mowing of lawns will be a welcome sight! Residents must please refrain from asking a favour of a gardener to carry out any private activity; they have been instructed not to respond to any such request, or to enter any cottage, yard or garage under any circumstances 
  • Maintenance teams: they too will report for duty on 1 June. The painting team will pick up where they left off in March, but only emergency repairs will be undertaken until further notice. Please liaise with your Manager 
  • Hairdressing services: as previously advised, this is still not allowed in terms of Lockdown rules. An article in today’s The Herald reports that “up to 70% of the SA’s hair and beauty salons, spas and tattoo parlours face closure”. It reports further that there are about 90000 people active in this sector, which is worth R300 billion; worrying news. 


Tobacculosis (TB or not TB; that is the question)

For a great many South Africans, the continued ban on tobacco product sales is as baffling as it is frustrating. Approximately 7 million SA people smoke about 27 billion cigarettes per year, or an average of 3,771 cigarettes per smoker annually. 

More statistics: There are about 44000 smoking-related deaths in South Africa each year, which equates to 121 deaths each day. A total of 63000 people died of Tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa in 2018, according to new figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO). Two-thirds of those who died (42000) were HIV positive. Putting this into yet another perspective, in 2019 20000 South Africans were murdered, and 14000 died in motor-related accidents (with apparently over 60% of those being alcohol-related). Also, sugar products are being sold throughout Lockdown, yet 4.5 million South Africans suffer from diabetes. We’re a sorry lot, largely self-destructive, aren’t we? 

South Africa is one of only three countries in the world to have banned cigarettes during the pandemic (along with Botswana and India). Our Government has yet to provide evidence to suggest that smoking has any impact on Covid-19. The WHO has not released evidence or data on how smoking impacts the virus and has not taken a position on whether countries should ban tobacco sales. Even if studies attempted to make a connection between smoking and Covid-19, why have other countries not followed their advice and banned tobacco? It would appear that there are factions within Government, with different agendas and information, with Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s voice being the loudest. It’s become something of a merry-go-round in political circles, with not much ‘merry’ in it! It is not MHA’s place to criticize. 

Now add the following into the mix: there is a roaring and very profitable trade in illegal cigarette sales, and in selling cheap cigarettes. It can take less than four minutes to buy cigarettes on the black market, and desperate smokers are paying up to R20 per cigarette! The cheap cigarettes are apparently a health hazard, and of course not one cent of the illegal cigarette sales goes to SARS as tax or duty. 

Depending on which media source you read, we have 24000 police officers and traffic officials and 73000 soldiers ensuring that 57 million of us obey the law and are protected. So far, a few dog-walkers, beach-goers and surfers have been arrested, but no reports yet of cigarette sellers being nabbed. The truth behind the ban on tobacco products has yet to be revealed; conspiracy theories abound. In the meantime, Rome continues to burn----like the tip of a Texan, or near the butt of a Benson & Hedges, or even the zoggy end of a Russian Ziganov zol!! If you can’t light up, then try to lighten up  

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This following clever use of the English alphabet was submitted today from a dear nonagenarian resident at a MHA village: 

Always BCool. Don’t have Ego with Friends and family. Give up Hurting Individuals. Just Keep Loving Mankind. Never Omit Prayers. Quietly Rememebr God. Speak Truth. Use Valid Words. Xpress Your Zeal 

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Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. 
It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming. 

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COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #39: MONDAY 25 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+24=60 

 Day 60 has arrived! 

We South Africans have been in Lockdown for 60 days; that’s 1440 hours/86400 minutes!! It hasn’t been easy, and it’s not fun. Every resident deserves a “long service” medal for displaying great patience, acceptance, courage and stoicism. 

The magical number 60 is the common speed limit, in kilometers per hour, in most urban areas in the world; in years of marriage, it is the diamond wedding anniversary; in darts, 60 (treble-twenty) is the highest score that can be achieved with a single dart; and it is the smallest number divisible by the numbers 1 to 6. 

Age 60 is considered the threshold of when people enter the last major phase of their life. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that the church should not financially support widows less than sixty years old. This was because those who were younger were considered able to remarry or strong enough to support themselves (1Timothy 5:3-11). 

There you have it; words of encouragement, a general knowledge quiz, and a snippet of bible study, all in one!! 

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Down to Lockdown Level 3 in June: Yes or No for PE? 

The good news announced by President Ramaphosa last night was that the country will move to Level 3 on 1 June. He then cautioned that investigation was still under way regarding the extent to which certain “Hot Spot” areas might be treated differently to the rest of the country on 1 June. The twelve Hot Spot areas basically include every Metro/major city in the country, including Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth; they are defined as an area that has more than five infected people per 100,000 people or where new infections are increasing at a very fast pace. Don’t celebrate too loudly yet! 

CovidCom is presently studying the Level 3 rules and regulations in detail, and we will comment in tomorrow’s Newsflash. One thing is certain right now: the infection rate is soaring, and will increase as more and more people are allowed back to work. PLEASE do not become complacent; do not be fooled into believing that a reduction in the Lockdown Level means a reduction in the possibility of becoming infected. Continue to practice the safe lifestyle which has become the norm since late March; limit your exposure to members of the public, limit your movement beyond your home, don’t socialize, wash your hands frequently, and wear your mask. MHA’s job is to help keep you safe, and keep you positive. Hang in there!! 

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National Escargot Day: 24 May 2020 

“Escargot” is French for an edible snail, but of course you all know this! But did you know that on 24 May each year the world celebrates this auspicious day?! No trace could be found about which countries actually celebrate the day, but in all likelihood France would top the list. In the late 1980s, escargots represented a $300-million-a-year business in the United States, so maybe they have tagged it on to their Memorial Day long weekend, happening now. 

Google will tell you lots about how to prepare/cook/eat snails aka escargot, but let’s not go there now. Why not just celebrate yesterday’s Escargot Day with the classic snail joke from the movie ‘Trading Places’: This snail buys a sports car and has it sprayed with a massive letter ‘S’, so everyone will see him and say ’Watch that ‘S’ car go’!!! 2 | P a g e 

Gratitude in action 

CovidCom received an e-mail from a resident on Friday (the sender has asked to remain anonymous). The suggestion made is considered that valuable that we share it with readers now: 

I have noticed the positive theme throughout the Newsflashes; this is highly commendable especially when we are feeling a bit fed-up ourselves! Gratitude has been mentioned a few times. Just a thought: would it help some folk if they are given an actual Gratitude exercise? 

I attended a Gratitude course a few years back and it helped me to have structure to gratitude. My suggestion is that we should encourage people to create a personal Gratitude journal/diary. While having their first cup of tea or coffee every morning, to become aware of just one thing that they are grateful for on that day, write it down, and throughout the day become aware of this one thing, and at night give thanks. Repeat this exercise daily, and at the end of the week reflect on all seven Gratitudes. 

I tried it again yesterday and, from my experience, it’s fun, surprising and uplifting! I saw a malachite sunbird sucking nectar from an aloe; a dove with a twig flying past to the big tree in front of my cottage to build a nest; a beautiful morning with crisp dew on the grass; people happily exercising outside; a gentle breeze on my cheeks. I could have almost filled a page with what normally would have gone noticed but only vaguely. 

Take care, and thanks for all the daily upliftment. 

We urge members of the MHA family to try out this suggested “Attitude of Gratitude” exercise. Gratitude is powerful; research has shown that it can have a positive effect on general well-being, resilience and social relationships, can reduce stress and depression, and can result in a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and better sleep. Grateful people are generally more alert, generous, compassionate, and happier, and also have a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions. 

If this research is to be believed, the exercise is surely worth trying?! 

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Feedback received; with gratitude! 

Last week we also received a letter from a Bedsitters resident, which we share now. What a coincidence it was to receive this positive message which ties in so beautifully with the Gratitude exercise mentioned above: 

Our tenth week! Trying to keep busy, read, listen to music, do a bit of walking, and refusing to listen to negative discussions about the Coronavirus situation, and have positive thoughts. We are all humans, and nobody can blame us for being a bit down at times--missing family and friends. 

But just remember we are serving a mighty God: Keep trusting and believing. He is in control, no matter what. 

We have so much to be thankful for. Start counting your blessings--so many, not enough words to praise and thank our heavenly Father for being there for us at all times. 

Then we thank the Lord for our Management who do so much in so many ways for our protection and safety. We are grateful. In the meantime we are all staying and praying and trying to put a smile on our faces, no matter what! 

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Your mind believes what you tell it. So tell it positive things 

Crisis doesn’t change people. It reveals them!

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #38: FRIDAY 22 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+21=57 

 World Hunger Day: Thursday 28 May 2020 
(World Hunger Day is an initiative by The Hunger Project) 

On World Hunger Day 2020, nations across the world are looking at the rapidly changing landscape of global hunger and poverty; not just food and water, but also education, social justice, the rights of women and girls, the environment, and climate change. The Hunger Project uses an innovative, holistic approach that tackles all these issues, and empowers people living in hunger to lift their communities above the poverty line for good; this is the sustainable end of poverty. 

There is an increased risk of hunger and poverty in vulnerable communities, internationally and domestically, as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 820 million people in the world do not have enough food. 

The Ekuphumleni Old Age Home provides institutional care to 60 disadvantaged frail aged people in the Ward 25/Zwide area of PE, and has a staff complement of 27. Ekuphumleni is a subsidized entity which should receive a monthly subsidy from Eastern Cape Department of Social Development; however, timely receipt hasn’t happened in the past ten years, and this year is certainly proving to be worse. Some MHA residents will remember that we have supported Ekuphumleni over the years, for example passing replaced Frail Care beds and other equipment to them. MHA has developed an informal co-operation arrangement with them, over many years, and we recognize the wonderful work which they do, with limited resources. 

Ekuphumleni is in serious trouble right now, with their residents and staff in dire need of many essentials. They have turned to MHA for help, and so the Board, Management and CovidCom invite residents to contribute towards a “relief package” which we will put together. We remain mindful that some residents are also struggling right now, and also that some may be supporting other charities and organizations in need. That must be respected. Ekuphumleni’s “wish list” includes: 

10kg Sugar x 15                                                            10kg Mealie Meal x 10 
10kg Samp x 5                                                              2litre Oil x 8 
10kg Rice x 8                                                                1kg Oats x 3 boxes 
Big Tin Coffee x 15                                                        Pack of 100 tagless Tea Bag x 10 
Sunlight Preem Bar/Brick Soap x 4                               1kg powder soap x 10 
Chicken Spice box x 8                                                   Knorrox soup big sachets x 8 
500g Salt x 2                                                                 Aromat original x 8 boxes (3 sachet inside a box)
Tray/unit - peanut butter x 1                                          Tray/unit of green peas tin x 8 
Tray/unit of baked beans x 8 Tray/unit of Pilchard x 8   6 pack of long-life milk x 15 
                                                                       23. 
The list is daunting; please don’t be put off by quantities required, as every contribution of whatever size will help those in dire need. They also have a list of non-food items, all essential to running an efficient Frail Care facility. This includes adult nappies, Glucosticks, Dettol, Panado, Limotil and cough mixture, and now they are challenged with having sufficient PPEs (gloves, sanitizers and masks). MHA is going to make a monetary contribution to Ekuphumleni, to enable them to purchase some of their non-food requirements. 

Please hand your contribution to your Manager by Monday 1 June. If you wish to make a cash donation, please place it in an envelope and hand it to your Manager. The Management team at Ekuphumleni is well-known to MHA; they have been carrying out selfless work there for a long time, and we know that all contributions will be used honestly and appropriately. Our intervention will make a huge difference right now. 

World Bee Day: 20 May 2020 

Had the compiler of the Newsflash beeen aware of the significance of 20 May, perhaps he wouldn’t have whined about having writer’s block on Tuesday!?! 

Bee that as it may, May is the advent of Autumn; beekeepers collect the last surplus honey as they prepare their hives for the winter months. Unbeeknown to most of us, May 20 is the birthdate of Anton Janša, a Slovenian who was born in 1734, and known to bee the pioneer of and teacher of modern beekeeping. You can give yourselves a B+ for that! 

Annually, May 20 is a day of raising awareness for the critical role bees play in the world, and in our lives. They pollinate over 170 000 plant species, and without them our diverse food supply would be less abundant, and our landscapes would eventually become wasteland, devoid of the colours and scents of those plants in flower. Bees have become threatened over the last 50 years. They are essential to our survival, and vice versa. 

To play your part, plant bee-friendly food (trees and flowers) at home, encourage communities to plant bee-friendly food along walkways and in parklands, and stop using harmful chemicals. 

The following was copied off the label of a honey bottle, locally produced by Menno’s Apiaries at Honeycombe Farm in Theesecombe: 

  • To make the 500g bottle of honey, Menno’s bees travelled 85000km (twice around the circumference of the earth!) 
  • In the process they visited over 2 million flowers 
  • Each bee makes a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its 7 week life 


If any reader wants to know how all this data was measured, please ask Menno!! We could wax lyrical about the subject of microscopic bee-tracking devices for ages, but we won’t; it will get the residents all abuzz.

PS: on a serious note, Menno welcomes visitors wanting to have an educational outing. Maybe diarize that as a fun outing for 2021?! 

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Update on Capt. Tom Moore: 

The intrepid fundraiser/centenarian just doesn’t stop! 

Since he was last mentioned in a Newsflash he has been granted the Freedom of the City of London. He said: "I remain humbled by the love and gratitude that I have received from the British public, and this honour is something that I will truly value for the rest of my life." 

Capt. Tom has now raised ₤32,794,701 (at yesterday’s Rand/Pound exchange rate, that’s R709,074,891!!). Of the total raised, ₤20 million has been handed out to NHS charities across the United Kingdom, each getting ₤35000. The charity at the hospital where Capt. Tom was treated for a broken hip and skin cancer received £122,500. 

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Italian divorces up by one-third! 

In today’s The Herald we’re informed that: 

  • Two months of pent-up frustration and irritation during Italy’s COVID-19 lockdown have led to a dramatic rise in divorce proceedings there 
  • Petty niggles have come to a head for many couples forced to live in proximity 
  • Couples able to get along tolerably well in normal times have been pushed to the brink by confinement. 


Is this what marriage has come down to?! What happened to the vow “to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part”? In the “olden days” the object (and fun) of being married to the love of your life was ‘to live in proximity’ without being forced to do so! 

Maybe this quip explains the root cause: “It’s been a great blessing to be at home with the wife these last few months. We’ve caught up on everything I’ve done wrong in the last 20 years”!! 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #37: THURSDAY 21 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+20=56 

 With Covid-19, we’re all in the same storm – but not the same boat 

From the outset, CovidCom decided that it would not use the Newsflash as a means of spreading daily doom and gloom by quoting legitimate or so-called experts and showing graphs and slides about the advancing COVID-19 enemy. Instead, we decided that anyone wanting to know about the detail, locally or globally, could use all of the available media platforms and resources to do so themselves to the extent they choose. 

However, the landscape has changed in the past couple of days, because projections on the severity of the virus in South Africa have been revealed to the public for the first time; up until now Government has been secretive about the rate of infection (“It’s classified information”, they have arrogantly stated), and about the readiness of hospitals nationwide to cope with the expected flood of Covid-infected patients requiring hospital care, including ICU. A consortium of some of the country’s foremost experts has conducted an intense modelling exercise, for projecting infection rates, hospital readiness and bed requirements, mortality rates, and when the virus will peak in SA. All of this has been shared with our Minister of Health and others. 

It is also apparent that Provinces are fighting the war on differing scales, based on the actual or projected infection rate per area, and it is highly probable that Government may have to decide not to reduce Lockdown to Level 3 in some Metro/Province areas in June (hence the title of this article). 

CovidCom will share important information with readers, once we have verified the sources. What we know right now is that: 

  • The key objective of national Lockdown was to slow the spread of the virus, to provide time for Government to address hospital bed capacities, and increase ventilator capacities. It is still unclear if Government (national, provincial and local) has satisfactorily achieved that; once infection rates climb we will have that answer 
  • Based on the modelling referred to, the national peak infection rate is expected around mid-July to mid-August 
  • As a country we will not be out of the woods for many months to come; continued social distancing, not being allowed to gather in groups (church, functions, sport, funerals, weddings etc) or travel in planes or on ships, limited return to work by many business/industry sectors, will be with us until late into 2020, at best 
  • The national COVID-19 infection rate will inform and direct Government over the next six months, and this will apply to MHA’s decision-making too. Trying to return to any version of “normal” could start a second wave of infection across the world, and this is a key factor being addressed by the WHO and all countries which have already been down this perilous road. South Africa is no different; we’ve just been a late starter 
  • Even once the majority of the world’s population has been vaccinated (that in itself will take months to do), we won’t return to the” normal” we knew; a “new normal” will emerge, hopefully for the better 
  • Even now, MHA (via its Board, Management and CovidCom) is looking at how we could and should adapt what we do. The immediate focus is on protecting the MHA family from the pandemic, and on how we can limit all the current negatives which affect everyday life of our residents, without further exposure. This is work in progress, which CovidCom will share, via the Newsflash, whenever we can. For starters, see page 2 today. 


Lockdown; it’s enough to make you pull your hair out! 
(but wait----there is also some good news!) 

Okay, let’s get today’s lesson out of the way. If you do actually pull your hair out, you could be suffering from Trichotillomania, a mental disorder characterized by a long-term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair. That’s Trichology 101 done and dusted! 

MHA’s Board and Management are acutely aware of the many frustrations and the deprivations which Lockdown has brought upon residents, their families and staff alike. The decisions taken over the past two months have all been carefully considered by CovidCom, and those which have been implemented have been in line with Government’s regulations and laws, and also to respond to the particular needs and dynamics applicable to our Villages, Frail Cares and Bedsitters. Where we have risked doing so, some elements of Lockdown have been adapted to best suit our residents (eg. walking about the village streets, getting the grass cut etc). Some we cannot change under the curent Lockdown level---for example, allowing visitors, bringing back hairdressing services, housekeeping assistance and gardeners---but others, which the laws and/or common sense allow, we change as we go down this COVID-19 road together. 

Some of the CovidCom members met yesterday, and we can share with you some of what was discussed: 

  • It is increasingly apparent that our locked-down lives are going to be inconvenienced for a long time to come; we dealt with that on page 1 
  • Residents are urged to comply with all laws, rules and regulations; everyone wants to see the country move to Level 3 and lower, and compliance is absolutely key to this happening 
  • As an organization, as a city, and as a country we just cannot let our guard down; otherwise the most vulnerable people (yes, starting with the elderly) will be at increased risk. It is in our (sanitized!) hands 
  • Residents in our Villages will, from today, be allowed to visit other residents in their village, but this must be on the following basis only: 

              - It is restricted to the outside patio/porch/garden only ie. no entry into the actual cottage is allowed 
              - Social distancing is absolutely critical; no hugging etc, as much as you want to do that
              - Masks should be worn during visits (you decide what is best to do if drinking/eating!!) 
              - Compliance is essential; CovidCom really doesn’t want to reverse this decision, or for Managers to have to police this 

  • Regarding the above, Bedsitter residents will carry on as per usual 
  • CovidCom is investigating the establishing of a screened facility within Frail Care where a resident can be safely visited by a family member. There would be no physical contact, and therefore no risk of infection. Creating this “box of emotions” (as a Portuguese nursing home has described it!) is a logistical challenge, and requires a dedicated visitor access point. Use by Bedsitter residents and their visitors is also under consideration. This is all work in progress 
  • Please remember that CP Bradfield Frail Care has a dedicated mobile phone with which family can have contact with residents (and vice versa) by using the WhatsApp ‘voice call’ or ‘video call’ facility. Please make contact with the Nursing Services Manager during normal office hours, to make arrangements to use this facility. 


CovidCom hopes to bring you more positive news, as and when COVID-19 allows us to do so! 

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A new way of living---and a new language! 

Today’s edition of The Herald carried a short story about how Lockdown is producing a baking boom, and how stores are running low on stocks of flour, baking powder, yeast etc. 

The article also quoted a psychologist who said this about the new focus on baking: “Some people procrastibake to avoid dealing with the stress of the current reality or to avoid doing other undesirable activities such as work or household chores”. 

Procrastibake?? Really??!! Maybe the psychologist was just getting a rise out of someone, or wanted to make some extra dough, or has a particular knead? Really, it just doesn’t cut it! That’s just the icing on the cake!! 

************ 

 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #37: THURSDAY 21 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+20=56 

 With Covid-19, we’re all in the same storm – but not the same boat 

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 12.38.54

From the outset, CovidCom decided that it would not use the Newsflash as a means of spreading daily doom and gloom by quoting legitimate or so-called experts and showing graphs and slides about the advancing COVID-19 enemy. Instead, we decided that anyone wanting to know about the detail, locally or globally, could use all of the available media platforms and resources to do so themselves to the extent they choose. 

However, the landscape has changed in the past couple of days, because projections on the severity of the virus in South Africa have been revealed to the public for the first time; up until now Government has been secretive about the rate of infection (“It’s classified information”, they have arrogantly stated), and about the readiness of hospitals nationwide to cope with the expected flood of Covid-infected patients requiring hospital care, including ICU. A consortium of some of the country’s foremost experts has conducted an intense modelling exercise, for projecting infection rates, hospital readiness and bed requirements, mortality rates, and when the virus will peak in SA. All of this has been shared with our Minister of Health and others. 

It is also apparent that Provinces are fighting the war on differing scales, based on the actual or projected infection rate per area, and it is highly probable that Government may have to decide not to reduce Lockdown to Level 3 in some Metro/Province areas in June (hence the title of this article). 

CovidCom will share important information with readers, once we have verified the sources. What we know right now is that: 

  • The key objective of national Lockdown was to slow the spread of the virus, to provide time for Government to address hospital bed capacities, and increase ventilator capacities. It is still unclear if Government (national, provincial and local) has satisfactorily achieved that; once infection rates climb we will have that answer 
  • Based on the modelling referred to, the national peak infection rate is expected around mid-July to mid-August 
  • As a country we will not be out of the woods for many months to come; continued social distancing, not being allowed to gather in groups (church, functions, sport, funerals, weddings etc) or travel in planes or on ships, limited return to work by many business/industry sectors, will be with us until late into 2020, at best 
  • The national COVID-19 infection rate will inform and direct Government over the next six months, and this will apply to MHA’s decision-making too. Trying to return to any version of “normal” could start a second wave of infection across the world, and this is a key factor being addressed by the WHO and all countries which have already been down this perilous road. South Africa is no different; we’ve just been a late starter 
  • Even once the majority of the world’s population has been vaccinated (that in itself will take months to do), we won’t return to the” normal” we knew; a “new normal” will emerge, hopefully for the better 
  • Even now, MHA (via its Board, Management and CovidCom) is looking at how we could and should adapt what we do. The immediate focus is on protecting the MHA family from the pandemic, and on how we can limit all the current negatives which affect everyday life of our residents, without further exposure. This is work in progress, which CovidCom will share, via the Newsflash, whenever we can. For starters, see page 2 today. 


Lockdown; it’s enough to make you pull your hair out! 
(but wait----there is also some good news!) 

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 12.39.03

Okay, let’s get today’s lesson out of the way. If you do actually pull your hair out, you could be suffering from Trichotillomania, a mental disorder characterized by a long-term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair. That’s Trichology 101 done and dusted! 

MHA’s Board and Management are acutely aware of the many frustrations and the deprivations which Lockdown has brought upon residents, their families and staff alike. The decisions taken over the past two months have all been carefully considered by CovidCom, and those which have been implemented have been in line with Government’s regulations and laws, and also to respond to the particular needs and dynamics applicable to our Villages, Frail Cares and Bedsitters. Where we have risked doing so, some elements of Lockdown have been adapted to best suit our residents (eg. walking about the village streets, getting the grass cut etc). Some we cannot change under the curent Lockdown level---for example, allowing visitors, bringing back hairdressing services, housekeeping assistance and gardeners---but others, which the laws and/or common sense allow, we change as we go down this COVID-19 road together. 

Some of the CovidCom members met yesterday, and we can share with you some of what was discussed: 

  • It is increasingly apparent that our locked-down lives are going to be inconvenienced for a long time to come; we dealt with that on page 1 
  • Residents are urged to comply with all laws, rules and regulations; everyone wants to see the country move to Level 3 and lower, and compliance is absolutely key to this happening 
  • As an organization, as a city, and as a country we just cannot let our guard down; otherwise the most vulnerable people (yes, starting with the elderly) will be at increased risk. It is in our (sanitized!) hands 
  • Residents in our Villages will, from today, be allowed to visit other residents in their village, but this must be on the following basis only: 

              - It is restricted to the outside patio/porch/garden only ie. no entry into the actual cottage is allowed 
              - Social distancing is absolutely critical; no hugging etc, as much as you want to do that
              - Masks should be worn during visits (you decide what is best to do if drinking/eating!!) 
              - Compliance is essential; CovidCom really doesn’t want to reverse this decision, or for Managers to have to police this 

  • Regarding the above, Bedsitter residents will carry on as per usual 
  • CovidCom is investigating the establishing of a screened facility within Frail Care where a resident can be safely visited by a family member. There would be no physical contact, and therefore no risk of infection. Creating this “box of emotions” (as a Portuguese nursing home has described it!) is a logistical challenge, and requires a dedicated visitor access point. Use by Bedsitter residents and their visitors is also under consideration. This is all work in progress 
  • Please remember that CP Bradfield Frail Care has a dedicated mobile phone with which family can have contact with residents (and vice versa) by using the WhatsApp ‘voice call’ or ‘video call’ facility. Please make contact with the Nursing Services Manager during normal office hours, to make arrangements to use this facility. 


CovidCom hopes to bring you more positive news, as and when COVID-19 allows us to do so! 

************ 

A new way of living---and a new language! 

Today’s edition of The Herald carried a short story about how Lockdown is producing a baking boom, and how stores are running low on stocks of flour, baking powder, yeast etc. 

The article also quoted a psychologist who said this about the new focus on baking: “Some people procrastibake to avoid dealing with the stress of the current reality or to avoid doing other undesirable activities such as work or household chores”. 

Procrastibake?? Really??!! Maybe the psychologist was just getting a rise out of someone, or wanted to make some extra dough, or has a particular knead? Really, it just doesn’t cut it! That’s just the icing on the cake!! 

************ 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---Oh no!! How long is social distancing here to stay??) 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #36: WEDNESDAY 20 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+19=55 

 “Hello Houston; we have an unprecedented biopsychosocial crisis here” 

Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program, and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched in April 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module failed two days into the mission. We South Africans were still deprived of TV in those days, so we had to rely on the radio and newspapers to keep us abreast of the dramatic rescue operation which unfolded to get the three astronauts back to Earth. Eventually we all got to enjoy the dramatized film version in 1995, starring Tom Hanks and others. It was nail-biting stuff (the film and the actual event!), with plenty of “Hello Houston; we have a problem” radio reports from the crippled spacecraft to “Mission Control” in Houston, Texas. That’s the history lesson for today! 

A recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine referred to COVID-19 as an “unprecedented biopsychosocial crisis”; we’ve heard it being called many things, but this is must be the most complex way possible to describe it! Apparently “biopsychosocial” relates to, or is concerned with, the biological, psychological, and social aspects, in contrast to the strictly biomedical (biology and medicine) aspects, of disease. That’s your Medicine/Psychology/Sociology 3-in-1 lesson for today! (and who remembers 3-in-One Oil??) 

We all have our own words to describe the pandemic and its multitude of Lockdown inconveniences, and some of them we should perhaps keep to ourselves! But we probably all have some words which describe how we feel, deep inside, and what we are experiencing about this “once in a century” global event, and how it has impacted on our lives; individually, as family, as a community, and as a nation. CovidCom invites you to contribute your thoughts and comments about this, and we will publish them anonymously in a future Newsflash. Here’s your opportunity to participate in the historical narrative, to leave your mark for posterity, and to achieve your fifteen minutes of literary fame! 

PLEASE keep your contribution to 50 words, and submit it by e-mail to covid.concern@methomes.co.za, or via your Manager. Here’s an example of the sort/length of material we hope to receive, but humorous messages, with or without venting your frustrations or deprivations, will be equally welcome:

COVID-19 is teaching me to be grateful for waking up each morning, for the food and shelter I have, for the love of family and friends, and knowing that we “haves” should all help the “have nots” where we can 

********** 

Live a balanced life 

Most readers should be familiar with this iconic photograph. We apologize to any readers suffering from acrophobia!! 

It depicts eleven men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 260 metres above the New York City streets. The photograph was taken in September, 1932, on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of its construction. The photograph was prearranged; although it shows real ironworkers, it is believed that the moment was staged by Rockefeller Center to promote its new skyscraper. Other photographs taken on the same day show some of the same workers throwing a football and pretending to sleep on the girder. This photograph is often used to illustrate a “work/life” balance. 

While on the subject of a “work/life” balance, we have mentioned before that our CEO Hein Barnard has a book on his office desk, “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living” by Joel Osteen. Hein and his entire team are working flat-out at present (nothing new really, but with COVID-19, even more so!), and he felt that the words on today’s page of the book are so appropriate that he shared them with his entire Management team. This is what they read as the got to their desks early this morning: 

“They have made me a keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept” 

(Song of Solomon 1.6) 

“Are there areas of your life that are not ‘kept’ because you are taking care of everyone else? If you’re always on the go, constantly working and never take time for yourself, you will end up stressed out and overwhelmed, and you won’t be able to enjoy life the way that God intended. Living a balance life brings peace, joy and health. 

Decide today to begin investing in yourself. Take time to relax and rejuvenate yourself. When you are refreshed emotionally, physically and spiritually, you are able to give to others more effectively. 

As you bring balance to your life, you will begin to enjoy every day to the fullest---just the way God intended!” 

It takes a courageous leader to acknowledge his or her shortcomings or faults to co-workers or troops, and to propose a solution. The entire MHA team, from the Carer to the CEO, are working exceptionally hard at present, doing what they must in order to prepare for the COVID-19 war; and this is over and above their everyday tasks, which includes wrapping up the financial year-end before the external auditors arrive, and being even more vigilant and disciplined in the workplace. We could all benefit from Joel’s wisdom for today. 

*********** 

I sometimes marvel at just how fast time passes by, and then I’m reminded: “Life is like a toilet roll--the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes” 

*********** 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #35: TUESDAY 19 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+18=54 


 Writer’s block! 

Greetings to one and all. Have you noticed since Lockdown began that our local English newspaper, The Herald, has almost no original journalistic content, and certainly almost nothing being reported on the plight of our City, which is leaderless, rudderless, and rapidly running out of water? Almost half of the pages are filled with advertisements, and half of those are self-promoting the newspaper itself. The majority of photographs are hardly newsworthy, and have nothing to do with our City or Province; instead it’s a case of “copy and paste” of random images (and just based on the past two days) of someone in prayer in the Milan cathedral, or a gravedigger in Nicaragua, or of a queue waiting to vote in Benin (that’s between Ghana and Nigeria, by the way!), or migrant workers on a truck in Hyderabad (you know that’s a city in India!), fleeing Covid. 

Coverage of and comment on COVID-19 is presently all-consuming across all media platforms; most of it should carry a health warning, and be avoided. It is also sad, but predictable, that the pandemic is being used as a tool for power-hungry politicians to remain in office, and for corrupt officials to deprive the poor, all at the expense of serving the people, which is what ‘civil servants’ used to do. 

However, look beyond all of this and you will see and hear about wonderful acts of generosity, philanthropy and kindness, across the City and across the world. This Newsflash is going to share some of these “good news” stories with you, in the coming days. We need positives, not negatives, right now. 

Every journalist or author has a day when he or she has “writer’s block”, and today it is so for the compiler of this Newsflash!! Enjoy the bits and pieces in today’s edition; CovidCom hopes that it’s preferable to a blank page, a random photo of a Nepalese encyclopaedia salesman, or more Covid statistics and stories. 

*********** 

Compliance: another approach 

An anonymous Village resident has shared this, related to the article in Newsflash #31 on 13 May about seeking residents’ compliance with Lockdown laws and rules. He says: 

“After reading the newsletter, I thought of a riddle. What sparked it off was the item about compliance, from the ‘Village sage’. One of the methods of getting a point home that Jesus used was to get people to answer their own questions. Having worked out the answer, they could hardly argue with it. I thought this riddle might come in handy in case there is any further reaction from disgruntled/ungrateful residents:

Question: What is the difference between the driver of an overloaded mini-bus taxi and a person who refuses to comply with Lockdown regulations? 
Answer: The taxi driver only puts his eighteen passengers at risk!” 

Groceries and Iron: 
Two totally unconnected items in today’s underwhelming issue of The Herald are worth mentioning, if only for the purposes of entertainment, and as a distraction from the endless and inevitable “C” conversations! Also, if one has a fertile imagination, the two can in fact be connected, as explained below! 

A page 4 headline said this: “Newton Park grocery store temporarily shut”. The “grocery store” is none other than Newton Park SUPERSPAR, probably the largest Spar outlet in PE. In terms of scale, size and selection it can hardly be described as a “grocery store”! 

Let’s not make this Nitpicking Tuesday; do any readers of the Newsflash remember the genuine article, real grocery stores like Richardson’s in Westbourne Road, and Harris’ in Rose Street, before the advent of trolleys and scanners, and when the grocer was a real person, who wore a white apron, and knew the name of every customer?! In those days (1960s) R100 a month was a decent living wage; if you went to the shops with R50, you could buy your monthly groceries and you would still have money left over. For R1 you had a choice of buying five beers or five packets of cigarettes; they were 20 cents each. Also in that era the drive-in was a popular entertainment spot; you could take a girl on a date for R2 without being classed as a cheap-skate and you would still have money for chips and cool drink. Oh well!! 

A letter on page 8 of the newspaper quoted Margaret Thatcher, who famously said: “A government is like a baby’s nappy. It should be changed often, and for the same reasons”. Nothing has changed! 

So how does a piece on grocery stores tie in with Baroness Thatcher?! Simple: she spent her childhood in Grantham in England, where her father owned a tobacconists and a grocery shop! He was also a Methodist local preacher, and brought up his daughter as a strict Wesleyan Methodist. 

From these quite humble beginnings she went to university and worked briefly as a research chemist before becoming a barrister. 

As a British stateswoman she served as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. A Soviet journalist dubbed her "The Iron Lady", a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As the photo shows, some photojournalist had a bit of fun, at her expense. 

Here endeth today’s history lesson! 

Feedback from grateful residents: 

CovidCom is humbled by e-mails of appreciation and encouragement which we receive on a regular basis. We share this latest one with you, received from a family member of a Bedsitter resident: 

“Good afternoon Hein and COVID-COM @ MHA, 

Your dedication and commitment is a beacon of light and inspiration to us all. We are far away, and you have our unwavering support in your efforts and determination. Your communication is an example to the world, and watching events unfold in Europe on BBC as regards Care Homes just emphasises how well you have and are doing. 

We salute you and the team” 

********** 

My Mum used to threaten to knock us into next year. I’m going to ring her to find out if the offer is still open!! 

********** 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #34: MONDAY 18 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+17=53 

The cost of MHA’s war against the Coronavirus: 

We will leave it to the economists and other clever people to tell us about the massive damage which this virus is causing to the world economy, to rich and poor nations, and to those who have little or nothing. Let us just hope and pray that the “new world” which emerges, once the virus has been defeated and we are all vaccinated, will be a better, cleaner, healthier, more equal, more tolerant, more peaceful world. God, in His wisdom, is giving us all a second chance to get it right, and fix this crazy world. We cannot leave it to politicians to do that. 

At a basic level, MHA is blessed to have had responsible and conservative stewardship going right back to its formation in 1982; carried forward over the decades by competent Directors and Management, support staff and professional advisors. One of the tangible benefits, details of which we have shared with residents at various formal meetings, is that MHA is a financially strong organization. This has enabled us to absorb the costs incurred in making sure that we are properly prepared and equipped for the COVID-19 war. 

In the past two months MHA has spent R500 000 on this preparation. We have continued to retain and pay our domestic, gardening and maintenance teams; stocked up on and dispensed personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing materials; provided private taxi transport to get our Frail Care staff safely to/from their homes; fortnightly sanitizing of our Frail Care and Bedsitter facilities; and providing our Bedsitter residents with a free breakfast and supper meal (up until 30 April), to compensate in a small way for their ongoing “locked in” situation, which they continue to accept with great stoicism (such a lovely English word!). 

We are about to enhance the fortnightly sanitization of our Frail Cares and Bedsitters by introducing Sterifog Aerosol Dispensers which will act as a further layer of protection for our residents and staff. The dispensers will be installed in all passages, entrance halls, sunrooms and lounges (25 units in CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, 17 units in Maranatha Frail Care and 10 units in Epworth Close). Fog will be released from the dispensers in intervals of thirty minutes. The fortnightly sanitizing, currently in use, attaches to all surfaces and kills off all germs; the specifications stipulate that this product is effective for one month, but we made a decision to do this on a fortnightly basis. The new Sterifog will also attach to surfaces including on staffs’ and residents’ attire. MHA will pay R 46,661 per month for these sanitizing interventions. 

If this is not enough, MHA currently has a R5million ‘hole’ in its income, because eight cottages have new ‘life right’ contracts signed by incoming residents but, although vacated, cannot be refurbished because contractors aren’t allowed on site. In addition, three cottages with a combined ‘life right’ value of R2.8million have been vacated but cannot be viewed by prospective residents under Level 4. MHA has the ability to manage this income hole, until occupation of the vacant cottages takes place. 

These are just some examples of the unbudgetted consequence of war. Imagine if MHA simply didn’t have the financial resources to heavily arm itself to fight off COVID-19? It would be like rushing headlong towards the enemy, armed only with a chilling war cry and a sharp stick! Imagine too if MHA went into this war without the dedicated, brave, disciplined, well-trained soldiers we have amongst us; our nursing and caring staff, and all those who support these wonderful frontliners? We are richly blessed. 

(the picture on page 1 is by Banksy, an anonymous British street artist who focuses on political and social commentary. The little boy chooses, as a tribute, to play with a nurse as a superhero, over Batman and Spiderman) 

************ 

Disposing of an unwanted firearm: 

Paragraph 7.9 of the MHA House Rules states: “Ownership of a firearm must be declared to the Manager when moving in, and any such firearm must be kept in a locked gun safe” 

Head Office has recently received an enquiry from a few residents who possess a firearm, but who no longer wish to keep it: how do we dispose of it? 

Ownership and licensing of a personal firearm is strictly controlled and regulated, as those of you who own one will know; you can’t just sell it, or throw it away, or give it to a relative or friend. 

Our CEO has established that the most efficient and legal way in which to relinquish ownership of a firearm registered in your name is to contact Captain Neil Kritzinger of the SA Police Services in PE. His mobile number is 083 6536875. Tell him that you are part of MHA, and that Hein Barnard suggested that you call. Hand over unused ammunition at the same time! If you are keeping a weapon, keep it safe. 

************* 

International Nurses Day 2020 

We saw precious little media coverage of this significant day, and this lowly Newsflash hangs its head in shame. This is a time in history when the nursing profession should have been placed on a pedestal; but they are too busy saving lives across the world right now. Even so, we “dropped the ball”. 

The global nursing community celebrated International Nurses Day on 12 May 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of perhaps the world's most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale. 

At MHA our wonderful nursing and caring staff were treated to a delivered KFC lunch on Tuesday. Then they had to get back to doing what they do best: nursing and caring, and spreading love. 

We salute you! (Banksy’s sketch is so appropriate to this piece too) 

*********** 

We close today’s Newsflash with some food for thought: 

  • We forget that waking up each day is the first thing we should be grateful for 
  • Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart 

************ 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #33: FRIDAY 15 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+14=50 


PLEASE toe the line! 

Despite repeated pleas and reminders, our Village Managers continue to witness blatant disregard for Lockdown-related laws imposed by Government, or rules being applied by MHA. They are tired of nagging or reprimanding some residents, and they should not have to resort to doing that! CovidCom received a valuable piece of sage advice from a Village resident, who says that people respond better to positive reinforcement than to have their shortcomings continually brought to their attention. For some people, the latter simply rubs them up the wrong way and actually makes them more determined to be rebellious. We take heed of this advice! 

So, we will not go the Min. Bheki Cele route of threats, and maximum force with minimum tolerance, but instead we share with you what the “village sage” wrote: 

“To all those residents who are feeling frustrated as a result of lockdown but are still choosing to remain at home for all but legitimate reasons, we salute you; to all who find wearing facemasks thoroughly irritating, but do so anyway, we applaud your selfless choice; for all who are desperately missing the company of their friends and family, but are steadfastly refusing to compromise on lockdown requirements, know that your example is speaking volumes about the sort of person you are; to all who continually express gratitude for the efforts of MHA staff to make village life pleasant and safe, know that your sentiments are a positive motivator to us to continue giving our best efforts. 

I would encourage those in the majority who are being compliant to continue in that vein, and just perhaps some of the others might be encouraged into greater compliance” 

CovidCom hopes that residents in the MHA villages will take this eloquent message to heart, and comply with the laws of the land and the rules of the organization. They are all imposed for your protection, and for the protection of your neighbours, not for our perverse enjoyment. It is, after all, just up to you. 

************ 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” 
(Viktor E Frankl) 

“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out” 
(Theodore Roosevelt)
 


Pulling your hair out?! 

In response to many enquiries received from desperate female residents, CovidCom regrets to inform everyone that Lockdown laws imposed by Government, in terms of Level 4 rules, clearly say that businesses or individuals providing hairdressing/manicure/pedicure/skincare and beauty services are still not allowed to operate. That’s the law, and MHA is obliged to comply. Sorry!! We know that this is a frustrating time for women in particular. 

Many countries across the world have also forbidden hairdressers and the like from operating. Those which have allowed hairdressers to re-open have introduced some interesting rules: 

  • No waiting area, no magazines, no dry cuts, and face masks for both customer and hairdresser 
  • Gloves must be worn until a customer's hair is washed (to remove any bacteria) 
  • A salon can only operate at 30% of its capacity 
  • No talking face to face; any minimal communication about cut or colour must be done via the mirror 
  • Customers and hairdressers must keep a 1.5m distance except when the haircut is taking place 
  • No blow-drying, if possible 
  • Scissors and other tools must be thoroughly disinfected between uses, as well as hairdressing chairs 
  • Hairdressing cloaks must be washed after each use; a disposable cloak should be worn over the top. 


If any or all of these rules will apply when SA’s salons re-open, you can be assured of the following: 

  1. The appointment backlog will be huge (phone your hairdresser now to get in the virtual queue) 
  2. There will be a significant increase in cost, because of the safety/hygiene rules 
  3. Find someone other than your hairstylist to skinner and gossip with 
  4. Women will receive little sympathy from husbands, from bald husbands even more so! 


************ 

Wearing your mask in your garden: 

Mention of this was made in Newsflash #25, but there still seems to be some confusion. This is what was recorded: “CovidCom has decided that what is best for all MHA Village residents is for it to be compulsory to wear your mask whenever you move beyond your cottage or your private garden area”. 

For the sake of absolute clarity, we confirm that you DO NOT have to wear your mask if you: 

  • Sit on a chair on your patio or the adjacent lawn (you can even spread out a towel and sunbathe!) 
  • Work in your garden 
  • Walk about in your private garden area, to admire your work and its beauty 


For safety sake, we recommend that you keep your mask with you, just in case a neighbour gets too close when giving you advice or a compliment! 

********** 

Attitudes are contagious 
Make yours worth catching 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #32: THURSDAY 14 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+13=49 

Tomorrow will herald the start of the eighth week of our Lockdown, one of the world’s longest; and the end is nowhere in sight. South Africa has many unique challenges and dynamics regarding its population, reportedly the most unequal on Earth, so it would be short-sighted and unfair for us to criticize or judge President Ramaphosa and his team too harshly, neither would it be right for an organization like MHA to do so. As residents, staff, and as the MHA family, our increasing frustrations make him an easy target. 

The President spoke to the nation again last night, and what he shared was underwhelming, according to today’s media responses. Some of what he said last night was: 

  • There will be a further easing of the lockdown, and an increase in economic activity, and the country plans to move to Level 3 at the end of May 
  • More relaxations will come with a greater risk, as more people interact with one another, and greater vigilance will be required 
  • The new level will allow for a wider opening of the economy, but the government first has to meet with stakeholders in high risk areas to discuss the way forward 
  • During lockdown, South Africans have demonstrated great courage, resilience and responsibility. Despite its duration and its severity, the lockdown is absolutely necessary; without it the number of infections would have soared uncontrollably, health facilities would have been overwhelmed, and many thousands more South Africans would have died 
  • From the very beginning, government’s response has been guided by advice from world-leading experts from our country, globally, and from guidance from the World Health Organisation 
  • We should never forget that the purpose of the lockdown was to delay the spread of the virus and prevent a huge surge of infections. So far, we have been successful in the manner we as South Africans have responded and dealt with this virus 
  • By delaying the spread of the disease, we have been able to strengthen the capacity of our health system and to put in place wide-ranging public health programmes to better manage the inevitable increase in infections; we have been able to source and produce substantial quantities of personal protective equipment for health workers; we have managed to significantly expand our screening and testing programme. 
  • If we lift the lockdown too abruptly and too quickly, we risk a rapid and unmanageable surge in infections. We will therefore continue to proceed cautiously 
  • Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained. Implementation has sometimes been slow and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh. 
  • The President's last point is telling; almost an admission that he has been embarrassed by statements made by those who serve under him, each one trying to satisfy a particular faction, or just trying to enjoy his or her fifteen minutes of fame. The walking/no walking fiasco, and unbanning/banning the sale of cigarettes are just two examples of the ‘power games’ being played. 
  • Yes, maybe the expectation last night was that some easing would be announced (more sectors and more people going back to work, hairdressing/beauty salons would re-open, more freedom of movement, cigarettes and liquor sales would resume etc.), but the cautious approach is the sensible way to go. 


The President ended his address last night with these words: “As I end, let me offer the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, delivered at a difficult time in the life of his own country: ‘The state of this nation is good; The heart of this nation is sound; The spirit of this nation is strong; The faith of this nation is eternal."’ 

********** 

CovidCom Meeting: Thursday 14 May 2020: 

Four members of CovidCom met for a marathon three hour meeting today, at which we interrogated our existing procedures and protocols relating to MHA’s readiness to tackle whatever COVID-19 challenges come our way, and we spent a lot of the time reviewing our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual. We focused on Facilities, Residents, Staff and Family, which are the four essential cornerstones of what MHA is in business to do. As a result of this meeting, we believe that our state of readiness has been well reviewed, and the updated document will create a template for whatever battle ensues. 

CovidCom will share more detail with you in the days to come. 

********** 

R.I.P. Richard Wayne Penniman 

Richard Wayne Penniman passed away on 9 May 2020, at the age of 87. He was better known as Little Richard, an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Unless you lived in a home in which “modern” music was forbidden, or you were living on Mars in the mid-1950s and into the 60s, you would probably have heard of him! As an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, he was nicknamed "The Architect of Rock and Roll". His frenetic piano playing, showmanship and raspy shouted vocals laid the foundation for rock & roll music for generations to come. 

His song "Tutti Frutti" was first recorded in 1955, becoming his first major hit record. The first line of the song has the unforgettable opening cry of "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!" In 2007, an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists ranked "Tutti Frutti" in the "Top 100 Records That Changed The World". 

He surely deserved the accolades and admiration which came his way, but it is doubtful that he died with the hope in his heart that "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!" would be engraved on a tombstone as his epitaph! Those of us who were brought up with his music will miss him. 

*********** 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #31: WEDNESDAY 13 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 36+12=48 

 Playing ‘Russian Roulette’ 

This was Google’s response to the question: “Why wear a face mask”?: 

5 Reasons to Apply a Face Mask Right Now: 

  • Relaxation 
  • Deep cleansing 
  • Unclogs pores 
  • Glowing skin 
  • Helps your overall beauty regimen 


As we were looking for information about protection against COVID-19, this was singularly unhelpful! 

CovidCom needs to get to the serious part of this article. To put it bluntly, there are far too many Village residents who are knowingly or unwittingly playing their own version of Russian Roulette; they are NOT wearing their face mask when walking around their Village or elsewhere; they are allowing visitors in; they are staying away from their cottage for hours on end (presumably socializing). They are breaking the laws imposed by our government, and they are abusing the rules set by MHA in an endeavor to protect residents and staff. 

These subjects, in particular the wearing of masks, were discussed at length at the CovidCom/Managers meeting on Monday, and the following is an e-mail subsequently received from a concerned resident at one of the Villages (she had extensive nursing experience in her working life): 

“I am concerned that a large number of residents do not fully understand why they have to wear face masks, which is to protect them from inhaling the virus. This is evident as when they wear a mask it does not cover their nose. It is often worn hanging around their neck and pulled up quickly when they see someone, or they wear it just covering their mouth but not their nose. When challenged they have an excuse; they can’t breathe or their specs mist up if they cover their nose. Another problem is that when wearing a mask a lot of residents continuously use their hands to adjust the mask or handle it in one way or another. Some I have spoken to don’t understand why they should not handle a mask once it is worn, or leave it lying around but need to wash it. Unfortunately the pictures on TV and in the Newspaper give a wrong impression on wearing masks. What also concerns me: are they wearing their masks any differently when out shopping?” 

Sadly, CovidCom and the Complex Managers have been on the receiving end of some harsh or unkind words from residents who have been approached for not wearing a mask (or for the other issues of non-compliance referred to above); ‘Don’t insult my intelligence’ or ‘I am old enough to look after myself’ or ’It’s my life so I’ll do what I choose’ or ‘Laws are there to be broken’. That is a selfish attitude; we can only hope and pray that sanity will prevail, and that these games of ‘Russian Roulette’ won’t end tragically. 

CovidCom doesn’t see the need to spell out what has already been announced or recorded publicly over the past two months, other than to remind all residents and staff: 

  • Wearing a mask in public is the law of the land 
  • Wearing a mask can limit the spread of certain respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection; physical distancing and hand hygiene should also be adopted 
  • Cloth masks are not expensive, they are reusable and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by acting like a shield to contain the respiratory droplets through which the virus spreads. The purpose of the mask is to reduce droplets that come out of the mouth or nose during speaking, coughing and sneezing 
  • Avoid touching the mask or your face while you’re out. When you get back home, wash the mask with soap and water immediately (without using chemicals) and wash your hands again 
  • After washing, the masks should then be ironed or left out in the sun to dry 
  • You should not share your mask with anybody else, and it is preferable if every person has two masks which can be interchanged during washes 
  • Remember not to handle the inside layer of the mask when taking it off or putting it on 
  • The public should not wear medical masks – these are reserved as personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers who are on the front line of our battle against COVID-19. 


We beg you to co-operate and comply. 

*********** 

Neologisms: 

Neologism is defined as a new word or a new use for an old word, or the act of making up new words. The Washington Post asked readers to supply alternative meanings for common words; the winners were: 

  • Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs 
  • Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained. 
  • Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk. 
  • Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent. 
  • Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie. 
  • Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp. 
  • Gargoyle (n), olive-flavoured mouthwash. 
  • Flatulence (n.), emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller. 
  • Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline. 
  • Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam. 
  • Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms. 
  • Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there. 
  • Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.” 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #30: TUESDAY 12 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+12=47 

  The Waiting Game 

Today’s edition of The Herald has an article on page 6 headed “Old age home staff refuse to work”. Some of the salient points reported in the article were: 

  • At least two people at the old aged home in Algoa Park, which is home to more than 100 elderly residents and with about 74 staff members, have tested positive for COVID-19. Two staff members have also tested positive, after mass testing of staff and residents was held 
  • While staff remain terrified of catching the virus and infecting their loved ones at home, a group of about 20 staff members report to work daily for fear of losing their jobs 
  • Staff there are demanding that the home be thoroughly cleaned before continuing with business as usual, claiming that until now their cries have fallen on deaf ears 
  • Staff have been reporting to work and not performing their duties since May 6, saying they simply sit outside the facility and do nothing 
  • They said they had been each given one mask, with a station to sanitise their hands at the entrance. However, the home manager said they had put hand sanitisers in all the home’s departments in addition to the entry and exit points 
  • The manager said the Department of Health had taken over the situation since the first case was reported. He said: “They sent in people to test everyone and have said a cleaning company would arrive to disinfect the place but nothing has happened” 
  • A family member of one of the residents said she had received no communication from the home about the matter. She said she was only told that residents were being tested when she went to drop off parcels, and had only heard the rest of the information through the grapevine. 


The Directors, CovidCom, MHA staff and residents generally would have read this article with concern and sympathy. Let’s not beat about the bush here; the article could have been about MHA. Let us also not engage in points-scoring, but there are significant and critical differences between what has been reported about the Algoa Park home and the reality around MHA’s facilities. It may be helpful and reassuring for the MHA family to be reminded of the following: 

  • Our Villages have been in Lockdown, with strict rules around visitors, and our two Frail Cares have been locked down since before imposition of the official Lockdown 47 days ago 
  • Via frequent communication, our residents have been encouraged to stay at home, and to practice all of the safety and sanitizing precautions. Complex Managers have played a huge role 
  • The safety and health of our staff has been paramount. They are transported to/from their shift via a private taxi, they are tested on arrival for their shift, their temperature is taken three times a day, and they have been thoroughly trained on hygiene and safety 
  • Communication with staff is ongoing via the Nursing Service Manager and other senior staff 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been made available since the outset, and is being upgraded and enhanced on an ongoing basis 
  • We have been as proactive as our imaginations have allowed us; our Frail Care facilities are being disinfected fortnightly, and sanitizing equipment is everywhere 
  • Lastly, and of great importance, CovidCom is communicating with the wider MHA family every day, and so family members are being kept abreast of all development. 


Some of what has been written here has been recorded before, but CovidCom felt that it was important to remind everyone of what is being done continuously in order to keep the Covid monster away from our front door. This is not the time to be smug, to boast about what MHA has done, or to rest on our laurels. We know that COVID-19 is coming; we just don’t know when or where it will hit. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame said this recently, and for us it is a timely reminder about COVID-19: “It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are, or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill” 

CovidCom/Managers’ Meeting: Monday 11 May 2020 (further input): 

Following yesterday’s announcement about re-opening of our Libraries, CovidCom can share the following with you, which came out of the meeting: 

  1. Managers have been mandated to make decisions affecting the residents in their village. In this regard, communication is key. Also, our Managers are taking strain right now; their work is stressful at any time, but more so now, as residents start reacting negatively to Lockdown. Spare a thought for your Manager! 
  2. Each Village is making its own plans about re-opening of the library; please wait to hear from your Manager, and please adhere to the health/hygiene rules around this 
  3. Domestic cleaners (privately employed or not) are not allowed back to work under Level 4, and so will not be allowed back to any MHA village. This is the law, not a MHA rule being imposed 
  4. It is hard and painful to be separated from loved ones at this time, but please understand that visitors (family, social or business) into the Villages ARE NOT ALLOWED. This is being abused by several residents. Lockdown is there for a reason; it’s to minimise the risk of inter-personal transfer of the virus. By mingling with visitors (or your visiting people outside of the village) you are putting the lives of your fellow residents at risk too. Also, many residents go out from their village for hours on end. PLEASE be responsible; don’t be reckless and selfish 
  5. Part of our armour against infection is proper nutrition. We ask that you keep an eye out for your neighbours; many folk in the MHA family are facing a huge financial challenge right now, and may be too proud to let anyone know. This is where and how “living in community” can play a significant role 
  6. Sr Gillian le Roux is prepared to cut the toenails of any resident who is physically unable to do that. There are health risks attached to ignoring one’s nails. Please speak to your Manager if you need assistance 
  7. You will observe random lawn-mowing activity in some of the villages. Our Maintenance Team members are now also mowers of lawns!! Fortunately winter is on its way, so nature is helping to keep lawns neat. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #29: MONDAY 11 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+11=46 

  CovidCom/Managers’ Meeting: Monday 11 May 2020: 

We try to meet fortnightly, to formally discuss matters of mutual concern, new issues and challenges, and to consider strategic needs. We focus on residents and staff and our facilities, but we also meet in order to encourage and support one another; these are particularly stressful times. We meet in a spacious boardroom-style room, and we adhere to all the necessary hygiene and other rules and requirements. 

In tomorrow’s Newsflash we will share with you some of what we dealt with today. Unlike the President’s “Command Council”, we have no secrets we cannot or will not share with “the people”, but we’ll spare you the boring detail! 

However, one bit of BREAKING NEWS we do want to share with you now is that THE VILLAGE LIBRARIES ARE GOING TO RE-OPEN THIS WEEK!!! 

The CEO and his Complex Managers are busy agreeing the administrative details around this, but our aim is to have the libraries back in operation within two days. Please don’t queue outside, and please don’t pester your Manager  

*********** 

Coping with COVID-19: It’s getting a bit weirder! 

We want to share this with you, based on a recent research paper (authenticated as not being fake news!): 

The Unbearable News: 

A group of people studied by the researcher have described their ‘isolation’ experience with words like: 

  • We may now be entering the dreaded phase of hollow-eyed stares, odd fixations and brooding resentment. Time grows sludgy. The days blur into the nights, the weekdays into the weekends 
  • We don't understand what's going on with us 
  • Mood and morale reach their lowest point somewhere between the one-half and two-thirds mark 
  • There was a first stage of heightened anxiety, a second stage of settling down to routine marked by depression, and a third stage of anticipation marked by emotional outbursts, aggressiveness, and rowdy behaviour 
  • There is interpersonal tension during the third, due to both loneliness and clique-ness, and this third stage depends on the relative passage of time, and how much more there is to go. 


Please everyone, do not panic: the researcher was analysing behaviour of three astronauts on their return to Earth after a 211-day mission aboard a space station! It has nothing to do with COVID-19! 

The Slightly Better News: 

  • Let’s now get back to the COVID-19 subject; the second half of the researcher’s paper 
  • South Africans have broadly been through two periods of isolation: an initial point where there was panic buying and confusion, and then a ‘honeymoon period’ when it felt novel and different to stay at home. The researcher says: "For a little while people were saying how they were loving working in pyjamas, and not having to battle morning traffic. People are now saying they're feeling really lonely; they're saying they can't remember the last time they interacted with someone in a way they found personally meaningful”. As a nation, we have actually now moved beyond that phase 
  • Infectious disease experts and the politicians responsible for the restrictions are of the opinion that social distancing rules are likely to remain in force for some time to come; allowing people to mix freely too soon could trigger a second wave of infections. This is understood globally now 
  • The researcher said: "When you drill down into isolated and confined environments like space stations and submarines, interpersonal conflict is the number one reason for dissatisfaction and unhappiness. The frequency with which it occurs increases the longer you've been isolated." 


Some Almost Good News, and Advice from the Researcher: 

  • Isolation affects people in profound ways, and how we respond to the COVID-19 restrictions is partly out of our control. Even fearless astronauts get knocked sideways simply by not having people around 
  • Take it easy on yourself. The next few months may be hard. Many of the things that would energise people and assist them to function effectively have been taken away, so this is a genuinely hard thing to go through 
  • Anybody who is experiencing anything difficult right now is demonstrating a normal reaction to an abnormal environment 
  • From experience, the researcher has found that those who have been through a period of isolation value the experience for what it has taught; they have a better idea of their personal values, and they're more committed to acting on them, and said: "When people have space to sit back and think it allows them to figure out what's important to them. That's why, post-COVID, we will see differences in the way people engage with each other, in the way people work, in the priorities given to the environment, and the way people think about travel." 
  • She (okay, so why did we take so long to reveal that the researcher is a woman?!) found that, following experiences in isolated environments, men are more likely to use social support as a coping strategy compared to before they went in, while women have an increased trust in their own abilities. That is, men become less insular and women become more confident 
  • She ends off by sharing: "Take it easy on yourself. The next few months may be hard. These tips are important, as is appreciating that some dip in mood is inevitable”. 


As CovidCom has stated before, there is no point in sugar-coating the truth, or the reality. Some of the emotions and reactions showed by the space station astronauts also apply to us, as we face COVID-19. They had years of preparation and training; we didn’t. The messages which come through loud and clear from the researcher are that we must force ourselves to interact meaningfully with others; accept that we are all in an abnormal environment which is not of our own making; and that it’s okay to occasionally ‘get knocked sideways’. We must support one another, avoid the negatives, and embrace the positives. As the MHA family we can do this, we must do this, we will do this. 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #28: FRIDAY 08 MAY 2020

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+8=43 


 Happy Mother’s Day: Sunday 10th May  

Wikipedia tells us: “Mother's Day is an occasion which is celebrated in various parts of the world to express respect, honor, and love towards mothers. The day is an event to honor the contribution of mothers, acknowledge the efforts of maternal bonds and the role of mothers in our society”. Even if you were never a mother yourself, you had a birth mother; every person on Earth came from a mother. Perhaps you played important mothering roles in your life? God bless all mother figures! 

Mother’s Day, which has been celebrated for a century, has now largely become a commercialized gimmick. Maybe this is the year to take it back to what it used to be; a proper celebration, as described above? 

The scriptures are always a good place to find significance and meaning: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:25-28) 

Let us spend Mother’s Day on Sunday 10th May 2020 contemplating the good which our mothers did for us: shelter and protection; the countless miracles they performed; the sacrifices made in a tough bygone era; raising us without the benefit of a pile of manuals on parenting to refer to; no pediatrician to run to at the first sign of our runny nose; still putting nourishing food on the table when there was too much month left after the end of the money! They even got us through mumps, measles, and chicken pox! 

With all the madness in the world right now, perhaps this is the right time to unburden, to forgive, to fix, or to let go what might have been sitting on your heart for years, regarding your relationship with your mother? It is never too late for love and gratitude, even though she may no longer be present. 

Maybe this Sunday is also the appropriate day to extend Mother’s Day to contemplate and embrace the other “mother” who is so important in our lives: Mother Nature. As humankind, we have ignored her, abused her, damaged her, deserted her, poisoned her, exploited her, starved her, killed off parts of her, we have even ridiculed her. No mother deserves that treatment. With this too, it is never too late. 

*********** 

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. 

Lay down what’s bothering you, and breathe in the fresh air. (author unknown) 


Put your shoulder to the wheel! 

To 'put your shoulder to the wheel' is to respond to a problem by applying yourself and making your best effort. It is similar in meaning to 'get stuck in'. 

Where does this expression come from, and what wheel was being referred to? All the early uses of the proverb refer to cartwheels, and it dates from the 17th century. At that time the wheels on wooden carts and carriages were large, and big enough to get your shoulder behind. In those days roads were rutted and muddy, and carts often got stuck, and overturned. There was no AA or breakdown service to call; the only recourse was to turn the cart upright and heave against the wheels to make some forward progress. That’s today’s history lesson done and dusted  

COVID-19 is demanding us, every adult on Earth, to put his or her ‘shoulder to the wheel’, in one way or another. There are so many ways in which this is being achieved, across the globe; showing courageous leadership at governmental or organizational level; carrying some of the scientific and specialist burdens, and the nursing and caring load in looking after those who contract the virus; carrying out testing and screening in order to eventually stop the spread; those who provide every kind of non-medical service in order to keep the world working; and those who are finding a vaccine. The list is almost endless. 

Hugely important are those global citizens who offer encouragement, who spread positivity and shun bad or fake news, those who look out for their friends and neighbours. Look around you; they are everywhere! 

In this time of Coronavirus let us please all find a space where you can “put your shoulder to the wheel”. In this way we will win the war, and change the world for the better. 

************* 

“I miss my church; Sundays are not the same” 

This lament is being heard across MHA; residents and staff alike. Our local churches have been wonderfully innovative in the way that they have brought Sunday and other services, and even Bible study sessions, into our homes or onto our mobile devices; they have taken “home delivery” to an entirely new level! Those of us who are churchgoers have so much to be grateful for. 

However, the common emotion being expressed within the MHA family is that we miss the close presence of and with God in the sanctuary, the praise which hymns bring, the sound of the organ (or piano or band), being able to attend to our tithing, the fellowship and a cup of tea or coffee afterwards, seeing and chatting to old friends we’ve worshipped together with for ages; we even miss the familiarity of our favourite pew! 

Our churches and we will withstand this Covid-19 onslaught. We have three fully loaded bazookas in our armoury, to take us to victory: faith, an unfailing belief that God is on our side at all times, and prayer. 

*********** 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #26: WEDNESDAY 06 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+6=41 

The Importance of Repairs and Maintenance: 

Things break down, and need fixing; that’s life. We also know that Murphy’s Law often gets in the way: “If something can go wrong, it will----and usually at the worst time.” In life, and especially in this time of Coronavirus, it isn’t always a material asset which breaks or develops a mind of its own, and needs repair or maintenance; it is often us who need some maintenance, repair, recalibrating, or just some TLC. With all of this in mind, we share the following with you: 

Personal Repairs and Maintenance: 

COVID-19 and Lockdown have brought uncertainty, fear, loneliness and other emotions our way, and it is often difficult to cope with this intruder. This can easily impact on one or more of our emotional, physical, social and spiritual health. Please remember this: as a member of the MHA family, you are not alone. We are here to help and guide and encourage and protect you, both residents and staff. 

If you are ‘down in the dumps’ or need some support, reassurance or direction, please contact your Manager. MHA has two wonderful resources to help you; our Professional Nurse/Counsellor Sr Gillian le Roux will contact you, and visit if required, and we have a Lifeline and FAMSA-qualified Volunteer Counsellor who will confidentially chat with you via phone. Please don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. 

Repairs to a MHA asset (geyser, electrical or plumbing problem, broken window pane etc): 

1. Our Complex Managers are on hand to assess and assist with minor issues 

2. Our Maintenance Team is available to attend to many minor problems requiring repair/replacement, which the Manager cannot resolve 

3. Otherwise MHA’s external professional service providers are authorized to attend to more complicated matters 

4. Any problems per 1-3 above must be reported directly to your Manager, per the existing laid-down system of your reporting such matters to them 

Repairs/maintenance to a privately-owned asset in your cottage/apartment: 

1. This could involve, but not limited to, a problem with a kitchen appliance, TV and related equipment, computer and related equipment, and the like 

2. Where an external professional service provider is needed to resolve the issue, your Manager must be advised before you make any call-out arrangements (which would always be for your account) 

3. The Managers have been instructed to monitor and control external professional service providers visiting Villages, and only the Managers are permitted to authorize a visit 

4. Any external professional service provider will be subject to strict visitation rules, which the Manager will explain and enforce 

5. Routine maintenance/servicing/upgrade issues cannot be entertained during Lockdown. 


n Doedelsak storie!! 

The origin of this is unknown, but we hope that it brightens your day! We apologize to our residents of Scottish blood! 

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man; he had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country. 

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions. 

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left, and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. 

I went to the side of the grave and looked down, and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before, for this homeless man. 

And as I played 'Amazing Grace', the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept; we all wept together. 

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, 'I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.' 

Apparently, I'm still lost ... it's a man thing. 

************ 

Strength for the day

Our CEO Hein Barnard has a book on his office desk, “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living” by Joel Osteen. This powerful message to carry him through another tough day was on yesterday’s page: 

“Heavenly Father, thank You for making me strong through adversity. I thank You that because You are faithful to me, I can be faithful to you. Give me Your wisdom to make the right decisions today, and the strength to stand strong no matter what life brings”. 

************ 

Dave Barker, son-in-law of Richard and Stella Collett, has kindly tipped us off that his in-laws celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today. Stella, always cheerful and positive, has been a resident in CP Bradfield Frail Care for some while, and Richard is in Cradock. They stayed in No. 9 Aldersgate from Jan 2008 until August 2017. 

Hearty congratulations go to the Colletts from the MHA family!! 

********** 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #25: TUESDAY 05 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+5=40 


 WEAR THE MASK! It’s “All I ask of you”*!! 

Wikipedia tells us: “A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment”. So, now we know! 

Face masks have been increasingly worn in recent years by people commuting and working in smog-choked cities, especially in Asia. Now globally they are an essential piece of body armour, in our fight against COVID-19. 

The Government Gazette of 29 April 2020, issued for Lockdown Level 4, says this: “A person must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place”. Based on this, CovidCom stated the following in yesterday’s Newsflash: “As strange as it may feel, PLEASE wear a mask whenever you are outside of the Village”. 

CovidCom has now received some enquiries and input about the best practice around the wearing of face masks by MHA residents. It is a fact accepted worldwide that people older than 65 years are most susceptible to catching the virus. We also know that, because of the MHA Lockdown rules imposed, it is most likely that a non-resident (staff/service provider/illegal visitor) could bring the virus into our facilities, but a resident could bring it in after being exposed to an infected person in the public domain. 

With this in mind, CovidCom has decided that what is best for all MHA Village residents is for it to be compulsory to wear your mask whenever you move beyond your cottage or your private garden area. Yesterday evening’s “bulk SMS”, in this regard, refers. Please also appreciate this: we have the residents in 319 cottages, and other facilities, to consider, when making decisions in the best interests of all. 

So, if you exercise or stroll in your village, please wear your mask. If you go beyond your village, please wear your mask. If you ever want to audition for PEMAD’s “Phantom of the Opera”, wear your mask! 

Please forgive CovidCom for the very occasional change in direction; we are learning hard as we go  

(* “All I ask of you” is the hit song from the ‘Phantom’ musical/opera; it’s today’s bit of useless information!!) 

*********** 

A thought for today: 

Health does not always come from medicine. 
Most of the time it comes from peace of mind, peace in heart, peace of soul. 
It comes from laughter and love. 
(author unknown) 


Forty days into Lockdown: 

We are truly blessed to have positive people like Rev Robin Wright of Annesley Gardens to turn to, for some inspirational words to share with the MHA family today, 40 days into Lockdown. He responded with 161 words within 40 minutes; how appropriate! Here is his lovely message for us today, and as we continue on this topsy-turvy journey: 

“Forty Days......Noah, his cargo and crew experienced forty days and forty nights of rain; we have had beautiful weather for most of our forty days. Jesus spent forty days in the Judean wilderness, during which time he was severely tested [tempted]. The Hebrews spent forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land, and during this time they learned many things to prepare them for nationhood. 

It seems that we may have learned a number of things during our forty days of lockdown. Did you see the brilliant moon against the clear blue sky last night? It was magical; no smog, no pollution. Have you noticed the butterflies, the increased presence of birds? Maybe there’s something there for us all to learn. 

Biblically, forty is used for an extended period, often resulting in a positive outcome. 

Our own forty days may well have similar results, even if only an appreciation of the great outdoors or the street where you live”. 

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When hugs and kisses became weapons: 

This piece is attributed to the author Haroon Rashid: 

“We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another. 
Suddenly Disney is out of magic; Paris is no longer romantic. 
New York doesn’t stand up anymore, the Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty. 
Hugs and kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents and friends becomes an act of love. 
Suddenly you realize that power, beauty and money are worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for. 
The world continues its life, and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages. 
It is sending us a message: “You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember you are my guests”. 

************ 

All you need to know about Lockdown-Level 4!! 

  • Level 4 means Level 4 
  • Level 4 is not Level 1 
  • Level 4 is between Levels 3 and 5 
  • Level 4 will take you to Level 3 if you treat it like Level 5 
  • Level 4 will take you back to Level 5 if you treat it like Level 1 


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COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #24: MONDAY 04 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+4=39 


 
You must exercise your rights! 

The Newsflash sent last Thursday 30 April mentioned this: “Yesterday’s announcement (by Government) said that citizens are allowed to walk, cycle and run between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5 km radius of their home. CovidCom is urgently analysing that, as there are conflicting views, so please await a further announcement from CovidCom before venturing out”. 

In the absence of the anticipated “conflicting views”, CovidCom then realized that a delay in expressing a firm opinion shouldn’t wait, and so a bulk SMS was sent to all Village residents on Friday evening, stating: “CovidCom has reviewed the exercising rules. Residents ARE allowed to go out and exercise between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5km radius of your Village. You must wear a mask. Please don’t walk on your own, or carry/wear valuables. Stay safe. Hein”. 

This new exercising rule relaxation (don’t these complementary underlined words just sound like music!) will go a long way to curing any “cabin fever”, but we need to share the following: 

  • CovidCom was cautious in approving the new rules, only in the best interests of residents’ safety 
  • As “senior citizens”, no one should have to remind you about safety, and how to behave! 
  • As strange as it may feel, PLEASE wear a mask whenever you are outside of the Village 
  • The number of those poor souls rummaging through refuse bags left on verges each morning has grown exponentially since Lockdown; they are desperate, and could easily resort to criminal acts to get money to buy food. So please walk in pairs or more (organized groups are not allowed; you’re old and wise enough to decide how to interpret, and comply with, that!) 
  • Stay in bed until sunrise!! It’s still dark at 06h00 

********** 

The largest tyre manufacturer in the world (by units produced)? 

We set this quiz question in Friday’s Newsflash. The picture should have provided a clue, if you are the observant, analytical, “left-brained” type. 

Answer? LEGO!!! 

When the numbers were checked a few years ago, Lego produced 318 million tyre units in a year, followed some way behind by Bridgestone (190m), Michelin (184m) and Goodyear (180m). Now for some more trivial information to fill your day and your mind: 

The name 'LEGO' is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. The LEGO Group was founded in 1932. By 2015, 600 billion Lego parts had been produced since inception; 20 billion LEGO elements (bricks etc) are made every year in the LEGO factory, equivalent to approximately 2 million elements an hour or 35,000 a minute. So now you know everything! Tell your grandchildren.

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CovidCom’s meeting on 28 April 2020: Some feedback: 

Three or more CovidCom members interact daily, and meet almost daily, in order to deal with operational or strategic matters of importance, as MHA continuously prepares itself for the battle ahead. This is how, thank God indeed, we are keeping ahead of the game, as we dedicate our people and our resources to protecting our residents and staff, to the very best of our ability, across all of our facilities. 

All CovidCom members met on 28 April (and, yes, it was in a remote sanitized location, and all eight attendees were more than 1m apart, with masks and hand sanitizer in evidence). Members of the MHA family may be interested in some of what was discussed and agreed at that meeting: 

  • It was reiterated that CovidCom is a committee mandated by the Board of Directors to make operational decisions relating to Covid-19. The Board will only be called upon when major decisions need to be made. All meetings dealing with Covid-19 are minuted, and copied to all Directors 
  • Some residents are showing signs of stress, and not coping well with Lockdown. Managers should liaise with Sr Gillian le Roux accordingly, so that counselling and assistance could be offered 
  • All necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) had been procured, and issued to staff 
  • More sophisticated thermometers have been purchased, so that the temperature of every staff member is taken three times per shift, and recorded, and taken of residents in Frail Care once daily 
  • As from Tuesday 5 May an “invisible wall” will be created between CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, to prevent movement of any resident of one visiting the other. This will help in isolating the one from the other, in the event of the virus entering either facility. Access by nursing, cleaning and catering staff will continue to be strictly controlled. Residents of both facilities have been very understanding and accepting of this hard decision, which they know has been taken solely with the best interests of residents and staff in mind 
  • The 4-6 bed Isolation Room is ready, if and when needed. Specialized barrier suits are ready too. 

********** 

Plenty of wining and whining at Aldersgate! 

Residents in two cottages at Aldersgate had a bit of fun recently, putting out signs on their street-facing lounge windows. The outcome of both pleas is as yet unknown, and remedy beyond the authority of CovidCom or MHA! 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #23: FRIDAY 01 MAY 2020 

LOCKDOWN—LEVEL 4: DAY 35+1=36 

 The “Lockdown Countdown” clock above is becoming complicated! Lockdown at what became labelled as Level 5 commenced on 27 March for 21 days, and was extended on 17 April for a further 14 days; 35 days in total. Today we begin the first day of Lockdown: Level 4. So, we’re into Day 36 today. Exciting!!! 

Is COVID-19 writing a new world order? 
These MHA Newsflashes are not the forum for debating or unpacking what effects Covid-19 will have on the world at large, into the future. What is certain is that virtually everything will change in one or other way. The world as we knew it has gone forever, and that’s probably not a bad thing, in so many ways. The global communities must come together, as one, to choose the best, and discard the rest. It’s not up to politicians, the mega-rich nations and individuals, the whizz-kids and tech-savvy entrepreneurs to drive the changes, to suit themselves best; under the heads of grey hair (or no hair!) resides a huge wealth of knowledge, wealth and experience, and just plain common sense about what is right and best. Let your voices be heard! We live in an interesting age! 

Every day one reads of the positive changes which Covid-19 has already brought to the new world: 

  • Smog reductions in major cities across the world, which were being choked to death, have been significant (New Delhi down 60%, Wuhan 44%, Mumbai 34%, Los Angeles 31%, New York 23%) 
  • Wild animals are behaving differently; penguins walking on Simon’s Town streets, prides of lions soaking up the warmth on tarred roads in Kruger, birdlife returning to Wuhan and other cities and to gardens globally. They are responding quickly to the absence of human disturbance 
  • The bottoms of Venice’s canals are visible for the first time in centuries. Many species of fish have returned. Miraculously, some of the holes in the ozone layer are beginning to repair themselves 
  • A vast number of people whose professions allow them to work from home are now doing so, and efficiently too. What future effect will this have on traditional offices in high-rise buildings, and the need to commute daily, when we start leveraging technology to enable new ways of working? 
  • At last, humanity at large is beginning to fundamentally understand the huge gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”; real liberty, shelter, access to regular food and clean water, basic education, healthcare and hygiene, safety and security, employment and a decent living wage, protection from abuse of whatever type, and marginalization in every shape or form. What “humanity at large” is going to do to urgently address this is anyone’s guess right now, but forming a ‘new world order’ United Nations or similar organization to shape a sustainable, peaceful and tolerant and more even new world would seem to be a good starting point. Also, there is an increasingly loud call for religious leaders to help show the way. 


We must not go backwards from here. In effect, Planet Earth has been given a second chance. 

The daily constitutional!! 

One interpretation of this old-fashioned expression is: “It is something that one makes time for on a daily basis for the betterment of one’s individual's health, the most common one being a daily walk”. CovidCom is aware of the importance of mobile residents being allowed to exercise, and so even before Lockdown Level 1 we put a plan in place for that to happen, even in the face of some confusion about what was permissable or not. To the best of our knowledge, no resident was arrested for any transgression! 

We have had a lot of positive feedback in this regard. With his permission, we share with you one such bit of feedback, received via covid.concern@methomes.co.za, from Neil Anderson of Aldersgate: 

“Thank you for allowing us Aldersgate golden oldies to exercise in our complex. 

Here is some useless information. One lap of our complex is just over half a kilometre. According to the counter on my cellphone, from Friday 27th March until Sunday 26th April I have walked over 160,000 steps, which is 151 kilometres, in 34 hours at an average of 4.4 km/hour. I usually do on average 10 laps a day, 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Another resident, who prefers not to be named, is also doing at least 10 laps a day. It's time to get out and walk around in the streets!! 

Regards, 

Neil Anderson, Aldersgate” 

********** 

It’s a long weekend, so let’s end off this Newsflash with some light-hearted stuff. 

Question: What is the name of the Company which produces the most tyres in the world annually, by unit volume (not revenue)? 

Bridgestone? Continental? Michelin? Goodyear? Yokohama? Another? 

Answer: This will be revealed on Monday! 

********** 

Lastly, don’t try this at home! 

WIFE: “Did I get fat during Quarantine”? 
HUSBAND: “You were never really skinny” 
TIME OF DEATH: 30 April 2020 at 21h35 
CAUSE OF DEATH: Coronavirus 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #22:  THURSDAY 30 APRIL 2020

LEVEL 5 LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+14=35

 Captain Tom Moore is 100 today!!




We featured this remarkable man in the Newsflash of Friday 17 April 2020. Since then, more remarkable things have happened in this man’s life, and worth sharing:



  • Today there will be a military “fly over” of his home by ex-RAF Spitfire planes, to salute the man
  • The Royal Mail created a special postmark, and all UK stamped post up until tomorrow will be marked with: ‘Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore, NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020’
  • When we last reported, his fundraising had generated 18 million Pounds; the fund hit 30 million GBP today!!
  • He has said he will continue walking up and down his garden for as long as people keep donating
  • The money raised is being spent on ‘wellbeing resources’ for health care workers, such as counselling, care packages, and ‘wobble rooms’ for them to express emotions in during traumatic shifts. Some of the funds have also gone towards electronic devices for patients whose families cannot visit them, to help them stay in touch
  • More than 140,000 birthday cards have been sent to the school which Captain Tom's grandson attends, and have been spread across the Great Hall floor there
  • The popular song “You'll Never Walk Alone” has become an anthem for UK medical staff during the Coronavirus pandemic. Capt. Tom’s duet with Michael Ball (Phantom of the Opera etc) and the NHS ‘Voices of Care’ choir, recently recorded, is the fastest-selling single of 2020, and he is the first centenarian to ever get to Number 1. This new version features an introduction from Capt. Moore, who speaks the lyrics: "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm there's a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark."
  • Guinness World Records has recognised Capt. Tom with two separate world records; as the largest fundraiser ever in an individual charity walk, and as the oldest person to have a number-one single on the UK charts (he beats previous record-holder Tom Jones by over 30 years!).


We salute Capt. Thomas Moore; he is an example to us all, especially now, but also forever.

Lockdown Level 4: some of the changes:

We received this e-mail from our CEO Hein Barnard this morning:

Greetings to everyone. I trust that you are all keeping well. Your tolerance and patience is commendable!

I am so proud of what our President has done during the Lockdown period. I am, however, perplexed by some of his subordinates’ vague announcements; there are more questions than answers.

 Via today’s Newsflash I would like to address some of the Lockdown changes announced last night on TV, and effective midnight tonight (but please note that some of these may change in the days to come):

  • Wearing of masks is obligatory when outside your residence (within the complex or in public)
  • A strict curfew applies between 20:00 and 05:00 (you must be in your home)
  • There is a limit of three people per private vehicle (all must wear masks)
  • Church meetings or other public gatherings (other than <50 at funerals) are still not permitted
  • ‘Hot cooked food for home delivery’ is allowed (but you will need to go to Village gate to receive/pay)
  • Sale of alcohol and cigarettes is still prohibited
  • Yesterday’s announcement said that citizens are allowed to walk, cycle and run between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5 km radius of their home. CovidCom is urgently analysing that, as there are conflicting views, so please await a further announcement from CovidCom before venturing out.

 
I also want to bring the following to your attention:

  • Exercising at any time (other than 20h00-05h00) in your Complex’ grounds remains “business as usual”, as previously indicated. Enjoy!
  • As from tomorrow, residents may mow their own lawns (or your neighbour could do it for you)
  • No recreational/personal visits to another cottage are allowed (it’s the law)
  • Part N of the gazetted change to the Disaster Management Act (Level 4) states that: “Live-in staff, and staff providing care to the sick, mentally ill, elderly, people with disabilities and children” will be allowed to work”. CovidCom has decided not to allow domestics and gardeners to return to work, under Level 4.
  • Only emergency repairs will be undertaken
  • No hairdressers will be allowed onto any MHA premises
  • Libraries and Community Halls within MHA Villages will remain closed. Stay safe


Hein Barnard/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

***********  

Okay; enough serious stuff for today! Let’s welcome the long weekend in with these wise words:

MAKE SURE YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR FAITH 
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE FROM DOUBT 
ISOLATE YOURSELF FROM FEAR
TRUST IN GOD THROUGH IT ALL.     AMEN


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #21: WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2020

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+13=34 

 Is anyone else out there feeling sad at times and needing a good cry? Anyone else with that sinking feeling in the pit of one’s stomach called anxiety? 

It happens when one sees so much sadness in the world! 

Note to self: 

  • Missing the physical presence of children, grandchildren, those we love, dear friends and worrying about their safety, is understandable 
  • The social isolation that is becoming more difficult as one longs for the freedom of movement to walk and talk with friends and to worship in Community are basic human needs 
  • Thinking about the possibility of contracting this virus oneself is real. Will I survive? I might die! Am I ready for this? Are my affairs in order? Am I doing enough to stay safe? 
  • Hearing of the pain of people dying alone, loved ones not able to be present to say goodbye, is heartbreaking 
  • At this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, sadness, anxiety, fear, even anger, are understandable human responses. 


What to do? 

  • I need a listening ear, someone who cares enough to not judge me, just hear me, not give me false assurances 
  • I need to give myself permission to cry, to shed heartfelt tears. Even cowboys cry! 
  • And to know that screaming and raging can be prayers. 


One of my favourite quotes, from Joyce Rupp, is helpful: “ May you welcome the tears you shed as friends of your soul, gifting you with an opening to release your pain” 

When the “storm” passes, as it does, and I begin to feel that release, I am free to feel gratitude, an attitude of the heart, count my Blessings and watch them grow. 

I need to remind myself…..”This too shall pass”. 

(This heartfelt and encouraging article was written and submitted by Sr Lesley Lawson, who serves on the MHA Board, is our Community Services Director, and is also Chairperson of St. Francis Hospice, where she continues a 34 year involvement)  


Urbi et Orbi: 

Below is the first part of Pope Francis’ address during the Urbi et Orbi (“To the city and to the world”) blessing he delivered from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 27 March 2020 (coincidentally the start date of our SA lockdown), while praying for an end of the coronavirus. 

“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat….are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying ‘We are perishing’, so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this”. 

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Reaching out to others: 

MHA has received some approaches from residents about what they, and their communities, could or should do to reach out to others during these trying times, when hunger and desperation is everywhere. In particular, those kind-hearted folk are concerned about MHA employees, or those people employed privately to help clean cottages or maintain gardens and who cannot currently work, or the indigent aged beneficiaries of our Nikithemba outreach project. This concern for others is laudable. 

However, this really is a Catch-22 situation. Providing food parcels to staff or contracted workers could place them at significant risk when they walk home after dark with a bag of groceries. The five Carers employed to deliver concentrated fortified food packets to the sixty Nikithemba beneficiaries (who each receive four packets per week) are also unintentionally being put in harm’s way, by delivering the food. The parcels get taken to Gqebera township by MHA employees using a MHA vehicle, and they too are being exposed to danger. Giving cash to vulnerable people also creates problems. 

The Nikithemba challenges are work in progress for MHA. That project will be under review when time allows, and when those involved can meet together again. Nikithemba as a ministry has served a wonderful purpose for fifteen years, and we need to continue with it, perhaps in a changed format. 

Regarding gifts to non-MHA employees, MHA regrettably cannot offer advice or guidance with that. 

********** 

Woolworths at Access Park: 

As of yesterday there were ten positive Covid-19 cases at that store, which many nearby MHA residents frequent. The entire workforce there has been substituted, and the premises sanitized, as a precaution. 

CovidCom does not believe that this should be cause for alarm, or that MHA residents or staff should avoid shopping there. It is like every other retail store across the City, across the world; anyone, whether staff or customer, could enter the store when carrying the virus. You should all be practising the obvious safety precautions anyway: sanitize as you enter the store, maintain a safe distance from everyone, and sanitize once you have unpacked at home. Also, PLEASE wear a face mask whenever you are away from home. As from Friday 1 May 2020 it is going to be mandatory, so get into the habit NOW!! 

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COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #20: TUESDAY 28 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+12=33 

 We all deserve a pat on the back, and a medal pinned to the front; we have survived Lockdown Level 5, and only “three more sleeps” before we go to Level 4! Then moving to Level 3 will depend on the spread or containment of Covid-19, and on how the public responds to the restrictions and safe behaviours which must be part of our daily livesPoor discipline or non-compliance could land us back at Level 5. 

Level 5: life under lockdown: 
Level 5 is the hard lockdown South Africa has come to know: only essentials may be bought, and only essentials may be made. We will be moving to Level 4 on Friday 1 May (but probably not Durban) 

Level 4: essentials, and a little bit extra (but including a nightly curfew 20h00 to 05h00): 
As from 1 May we’ll be able to buy even non-essential stuff from stores already open to sell food, including tobacco products, but not alcohol. 
Postal delivery will resume, and we will be allowed to exercise more than just to/from the postbox! 
E-hailing and taxis will be allowed at any time, but with limits on how many passengers each may carry.
Industries to re-open include: agriculture (including wine-making), open-cast mining, and all financial and professional services. 

Level 3: takeaways, alcohol, and clothes: 
Some domestic air travel will return, but with limited flights per day, and authorization required to travel.
You’ll be able to buy takeaway food and order from Uber Eats and Mr D. 
Online stores will be allowed to sell and deliver. 
Clothing stores will be open, and you’ll be able to buy hardware even if you aren’t a plumber. 
Alcohol will be on sale again, albeit during restricted hours. 
Also back on sale: stationery, cellphones and computers, and books. 
Industries to re-open include: carmakers, chemicals, and Transnet. 

Level 2: you can fly, and domestic workers return: 
Domestic workers will be allowed to return to work, and informal waste-pickers will be allowed on the street. 
You’ll be able to fly without an excuse, albeit only within South Africa. 
All retail, manufacturing, and construction will be allowed, with no capacity limits for miners. 
Also back: all government services, and installation and maintenance workers. 

Level 1: ‘restrictions’ on international travel: 
Besides hygiene requirements for public transport, the only limitation at Level 1 would be unspecified “restrictions on international travel”. This needs to be clarified, nearer to the time. 
CovidCom will try to keep you all informed of changes and provide more detailed information per Level, but we recommend that you monitor changes which may affect or interest you, via the media. 

Viva MHA nursing and caring staff, Viva!!! 
This Newsflash edition is dedicated to our Nursing and Caring staff, five of whom appear on our masthead for this week. Many staff leave challenging circumstances behind in order to get to work on time; they work tirelessly in carrying out their calling to care for the elderly, and then they go home at night or in the morning to a household which needs them and has missed them. Our private taxi service does help. 

We thank them and praise them for the work they’re doing; showing great courage as they work in an environment with an unseen enemy; attending to the various personal daily needs of frail people, administering medication, monitoring and managing and training, making sure that the facilities are clean, sanitized and compliant with laid-down procedures; counselling, and offering care and love, and stimulation to prevent boredom; preparing and serving meals, and keeping our kitchens hygienic and tidy. God bless all of you, and your families. 

Yesterday was Freedom Day in South Africa!!! 

As Apartheid was dismantled, a non-racial Constitution was adopted in 1993, and came into effect on 27 April 1994, the day the nation cast its vote in the first democratic election in the country. The ANC was voted into power, and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the President of South Africa on 10 May, making him the country's first black chief executive. 

The elections were the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to take part. Millions queued in lines (remember the images, like above, of the snaking queues of patient people, waiting to cast their vote?!). Altogether, 19,726,579 votes were counted. The date 27 April is now an annual public holiday: Freedom Day. We didn’t enjoy much “freedom” yesterday----crazy times!! 

It is healthy to reflect. Which “snaking queue” did you stand in, more than a quarter of a century ago? Was the mood sombre or jubilant, or a bit of both? What were your thoughts, fears and expectations on that momentous day? Fast forward 26 years: we have so much to be grateful for, as South Africans.

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #19: FRIDAY 24 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+8=29 

  TGIF!! You probably all listened to our President on TV last night. The phased scaling down of Lockdown is going to be increasingly frustrating, but it’s the sensible and cautious route to follow, especially as South Africa is nowhere near witnessing, or even comprehending, the full fury of the Covid-19 monster. 

The shocking and unacceptable lack of health-related readiness and leadership within our Metro and our Province, as exposed during our Health Minister’s visit to the City on Wednesday, must not go unpunished. It is criminal that our hospitals are not ready; they are understaffed and under-equipped, there is a huge demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are way behind what is needed in terms of testing and screening. If MHA could get its house in order by early March, and constantly improve and expand on what it needs to do in order to protect its citizens (the residents and staff), why can’t the provincial Health Department get it right? You all know the answer! 

We share an important message with you all on page 2, but first a bit of funny and some reflective stuff! 

The Dalai Lama said this: “Wherever you have friends, that’s your country; wherever you receive love, that’s your home” 

****** 

The following piece is attributed to Sonya Renee Taylor, an American author, poet, public speaker and educator: 

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature” 

***** 

MESSAGE FROM YOUR LIBRARIAN: Post-apocalyptic Fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs 

Our Nursing Services Manager, Sanet Marx, has received enquiries from some residents about what they should do if they show symptoms which they suspect is Covid-19. This is her message to all of you: 

Follow this procedure should you suspect infection with Corona virus: 

  1. If you have a medical aid: contact your doctor or go directly to the nearest Ampath or Pathcare. They have safe and secure drive-thru facilities for testing 
  2. If you don’t have a medical aid: go to your nearest clinic or to the Central Community Health Centre. Screening will be done there. If further investigation is needed, they will refer you to Livingstone Hospital where testing will be done 
  3. I encourage you to make use of the Whatsapp number below. They go through the screening questions and, depending on your answers, will recommend what should be done (eg. you are at low risk of having COVID 19 and won’t need to complete the risk assessment for the next 7 days) 


CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) 24-HOUR HOTLINE NUMBER: 0800 029 999 
CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) WHATSAPP NUMBER: 0600 12 3456 
Step 1: Save the number to your Contacts on your mobile 
Step 2: Send the word "Hi" to Covid-19 Connect and start chatting 

I have tried both these numbers and they are active and working. 

These are the screening questions you will be asked: 

  • Have you noticed any recent changes in your ability to taste or smell things? 
  • Have you been in close contact to someone confirmed to be infected with COVID-19? 
  • Do you have a pre-existing medical condition eg. lung disease, heart disease, diabetes with complications, TB, HIV? 
  • Do you have a cough that recently started? 
  • Do you have a sore throat, or pain when swallowing? 
  • Do you have breathlessness or difficulty breathing? 
  • In the last couple of days, have you experienced pain in your body, especially your muscles hurting more than usual? 
  • Do you feel very hot or cold? Are you sweating or shivering? Do you have a temperature? 


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We need to close off with a reminder about socializing: 

1. Lockdown prohibits a resident from visiting another resident in his/her cottage or room 

2. Similarly, a resident cannot leave his/her village and pay a social visit to another person 

This is currently the law of the land; it’s not just MHA’s rule. There are unfortunately a few serial offenders in this regard; the consequences of breaking the law are yours, not ours. We ask all residents to comply. 

Enjoy the long weekend. Planning anything special?!!! Back on Tuesday!! 


 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #18: THURSDAY 23 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+7=28 

 The Covid-19 vaccine 

It is a scientific certainty that a vaccine will be produced within the next 9-18 months, which we all hope and pray will rid the world of the Covid-19 scourge. How much damage globally the virus will cause until then, in terms of health and economy, is anyone’s guess. We must remain confident in the knowledge that the best scientists on the planet are constantly in their laboratories, seeking the magical cure. There is obviously a humanitarian end-goal at play here but, let’s face it, the first pharmaceutical company across the finishing line will make a tidy profit too! 

Vaccines have been with us for a long time. Some of the significant inventions were: 

Smallpox      1796    Tuberculosis            1922 
Leprosy        1873    Yellow fever             1930 
Cholera        1880    Poliomyelitis            1952 
Typhoid        1880    Measles                   1953 
Diphtheria     1891    Poliomyelitis (oral)  1955 

Almost every present MHA resident was alive during WWII (some born well before then!), and so were alive when Poliomyelitis caused so much devastation and heartbreak during the 1950s. Many parents were so scared of the Polio epidemic which occurred each summer that they kept their children away from swimming pools, or sent them to stay with relatives in the country, as they waited for a vaccine. When the Polio vaccine was licensed in 1955, the world celebrated, and Jonas Salk, its inventor, became an overnight hero. Do you remember lining up at school, or at a clinic, to be administered your sugar cube with a dose of the vaccine placed on it with a glass dropper?! Or was it given via a painful injection?! 

Edward Jenner, known as “the father of vaccinations” invented a method to protect against Smallpox in 1796. The method involved taking material from a blister of someone infected with Cowpox and inoculating it into another person’s skin; this was called arm-to-arm inoculation. 

Science, and the fight against life-threatening diseases, has progressed so much since the dark days where there was just no cure. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century, and around 500 million people, including six monarchs, in the last 100 years of its existence. 

So, Smallpox was eradicated, thanks to the Cowpox disease affecting the udder of cows, and transmitted to other cows and to humans (like milkmaids and farmers). Can you just imagine the joy, and the blessing to the environment, to nature and to the world, if an animal disease called Rhinopox emerged, and if science needed to rely on a huge supply of healthy Rhinos in order to create a Covid-19 vaccine?! 

There is no egotistical intent on the part of CovidCom, collectively or individually, when we occasionally feature e-mails of thanks (sometimes edited, for space reasons) which are received daily via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. We believe that they help spread joy and appreciation for what we, the MHA family, are experiencing in these challenging and often worrying times. Here is one from a couple resident in a MHA village (they requested anonymity): 

Dear all the CovidCom, 

We are so very, very thankful for all your guidance and caring that you are giving to all at Methodist Homes. We are so inspired and encouraged by your daily interesting and encouraging messages, not forgetting the essential laughs; surely they do help to keep us on the right path!! 

For all of us, it was disappointing that the Lockdown had been extended, but we do know that it is for our own good and, as the prayer says, to remember those who are less fortunate than we are, and there are many. We are also thankful to our beloved Father God, that He is hearing the prayers and cries of all His people, for the hungry and the marginalised, and we continue to pray that all the money that is being raised will in fact feed the desperately hungry, and help those who are unable at this stage to earn money to put bread on the table. How blessed we are indeed. 

I attach a poem, which was my Dad’s favourite poem, and we grew up with these words. I think that it will also help us to remain in the right state of mind and be bold in doing the right thing, and to continually praise and thank God for His Fatherly goodness and kindness to us all. 

  T H I N K I N G 

  If you think you are beaten, you are;
  If you think you dare not, you don’t; 
  If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t, 
  It’s almost a cinch you won’t. 
  If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost, 
  For out in the world we find, 
  Success begins with a fellow’s will, 
  It’s all in the state of mind. 
  If you think you’re outclassed, you are, 
  You’ve got to think high to rise, 
  You’ve got to be sure of yourself, 
  Before you can ever win a prize! 
  Life’s battle won’t always go 
  To the stronger or faster man, 
  But soon or late the man who wins, 
  Is the man who thinks he can!!! 

********** 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #17: WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 2020

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+6=27 

The state of the nation: 

Our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, continues to inspire a nation in distress and in grave danger. Guided and supported by his Cabinet and others, including the best financial, medical, strategic and organizational minds in the country and across the world, he continues to make bold, calculated and necessary decisions, in the best interests of all South Africans, but in particular those who are vulnerable in so many ways. Last night’s message to us was proof of this, even though he didn’t specifically mention “the elderly”. 

Yes, some citizens (probably including some within the MHA family) may disagree with these sentiments and/or with the President’s decisions and leadership, but he certainly cannot be accused of pussyfooting around at a time when bold decisions have been required, or in denial about what has already been proven and experienced in other countries, or engaging in peurile political game-playing, finger-pointing and bickering with “the opposition”, while Rome is burning. 

Our President has demonstrated, again and again, strength, courage, humility, a deep concern for all fellow South Africans across all strata, and he has personified Churchill-style uncompromising, focused, and strong leadership. Can you imagine where we would be today if Covid-19 had struck our beloved country during his predecessor’s tenure? 

The President will be addressing the nation again tomorrow night (Thursday 23rd), and he will be focussing on if and how Lockdown laws and restrictions can be relaxed in some or other way, to get our economy ticking over again, and getting people back to income-generating work. One thing is certain: Lockdown will not be lifted overnight, neither will normality return. Let us not speculate now; cancel the social arrangements you have made for tomorrow night, and watch TV!! 

We hope to unpack some positives with you on Friday. 

*********** 

Our CEO Hein Barnard was told this by a friend of his: 

“I have sanitized my hands so much that I can actually read the crib notes I wrote on my hands thirty years ago, as a student”!! 

********** 

It’s all about timing! 

We have received material from two resident couples which describe instances of what timing is all about. The first story is about good timing; the second is a combination of both good and bad timing! 

Good timing (a new couple, who wish to remain anonymous):  

“We would like to express our great appreciation for everything that you are doing for all of us here in our village. It is great to receive the Newsflashes, keeping us up-to-date of the positives of what is happening in the MHA complexes and the wonderful work that is being done to care for everyone's needs. 

We were so lucky that everything worked out well for us to move here just before lockdown - what a blessing! It has given us time to settle and unpack at leisure. 

We felt so at home from the first night that we slept here, and know that this is the right place for us and that we are going to be very happy here. We look forward to the time when things will be back to normal.” 

Bad timing, but balanced with providence, joy and beauty (John and Liz Machin of Cassia Gardens): 

The Machins left for New Zealand on 14 February to visit their daughter and her family in Tauranga, North Island. In order for John and Liz to explore that beautiful country, they purchased a Toyota Hi-Ace with a high roof, to use as a “campervan”. They visited their best man for the first time since 1966, and then took the ferry across the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton, South Island. In terms of beauty and spendour, South Island was everything that they had imagined, and hoped for. 

Nine days into the trip the weather was getting colder; too cold for warm-bodied Seffricans! They hadn’t even reached the planned highlight of Milford Sound, or Christchurch. In John’s words: “At that point the Lord took charge of our trip and our decision-making, and turned us around to return to the north of South Island forthwith. It was quite a disappointment to us but, in terms of what was about to hit us, it could only have been the Lord’s providence for us, and for our safety” They got to the ferry point in Picton, and eventually secured a booking to get themselves and the vehicle back to North Island, and to family. The ferry terminal was jammed with people and vehicles trying to get on what turned out to be the last ferry trip from South to North. They got back to Tauranga in the nick of time, before lockdown was declared nationally. As John puts it: “Had the Lord not turned us around we would most likely have spent most of the Southern winter living in our van in a very cold campsite”. 

So, John and Liz are reunited with the family there, which certainly has its blessings. When they left for New Zealand they were totally unaware of the impending pandemic, or how it would affect their lives. They have no idea how long they will be there, as they obviously cannot return to SA/Cassia Gardens as planned. They are safe, warm and happy, which is what is most important right now. They will return!! 

********** 

To close off, we received this positive message from a resident couple, who asked for anonymity: 

Good morning to the CovidCom, 

Your daily Newsflashes are becoming part of our lives; each day something new and different lifts our spirits, and gives us a connection with you that is, for most of us, a great plus; the efforts to ensure our safety and protection, from private taxis to extra bedsitter meals, and all the efforts in between is mind blowing. How fortunate we are to part of this great family. Take good care of yourselves; you are very special people. God’s richest blessings on all your efforts.


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #16: TUESDAY 21 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+5=26 

 When fishermen cannot go to sea, they repair their nets 

One dictionary defines “repair” as “to restore something damaged, faulty, or worn to a good condition”. Here’s a personal challenge which we risk sharing with you; what are you doing to repair yourself during Lockdown? With our diary pages currently blank, with our not being able to say “I’m just popping out for a bit” in order to avoid having to do something urgent around the house, and with our being forced to stay at home almost all of the time, this is perhaps the ideal chance to get stuck into some jobs, tasks or even the touchy-feely challenges which we have been putting off for far too long? The exercise might prove to be cathartic, or even an unburdening, or maybe just as simple as reducing clutter in cupboards, drawers, or in the garage? Maybe you would like to consider some of the following: 

  • Get all of your personal documents, papers and affairs in order (in time, others will be grateful for that) 
  • Do all the necessary filing (it’s the worst kind of job, but it will pay dividends when you/others need it) 
  • Go through all of those old photo albums (books and/or digital). Enjoy; keep the best; tear up the rest! 
  • Write your “life story”, even in point form (there is much about you that loved ones deserve to know) 
  • Phone/e-mail someone you care about, but haven’t expressed that for far too long. It’s never too late 
  • In some way, make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate than you are at the moment 
  • If you haven’t used it for six months (whatever “it” is), use it now, or consider finding it a new home 
  • Make a list of people where saying “I’m sorry” might be appropriate, and then make that call 
  • Prepare a formal “Action Plan” for say ten “fun” things you are going to do when Covid-19 is behind us 
  • Challenge yourself to make a few desirable changes in your life by the time Covid-19 is gone. 


There’s a useful analogy in the above title, lurking just under the surface! The fishermen and women (the MHA residents) cannot go to sea at present (Lockdown forbids that), and so it is a gift given to us (not being able to go to sea to fish, perhaps because of a storm coming our way) that we are confined to the safety of the harbour and our home (our beautiful MHA villages, bedsitters, and frail cares) until it is safe to launch our boats again (resume a measure of normal life, once the Covid-19 storm has passed). In the meantime, get out your netting needles, your shuttles and twine, and get stuck into fixing the holes in your nets; consider some tasks on the list provided, or tackle your own “To Do” list which is maybe beginning to get frayed around the edges! Here’s wishing you “Tight Lines” en “Stywe Lyne” with this. 

Safety and security: 

During this Lockdown period it is easy for us to be lulled into a false sense of security: no one is allowed to walk around, day or night, the army and police are out in force, and the incidence of crime is down so Atlas/ADT/others have more time to patrol. This picture is distorted; criminals don’t observe Lockdown or any other laws, the absence of people and vehicles makes it easier for them to move around, and the fact that people are in their homes for most of the day and night means that valuables (laptops, mobile phones, wallets/purses etc) are concentrated in one place. 

It gets worse. Hunger and lack of money is everywhere amongst the really poor people in our country, and they will go to desperate measures to put a bit of food on their tables. Those living with substance abuse will steal what they can, to convert into cash and then into drugs. History across the world tells us that the hungry poor will do anything to be fed; widespread stealing and looting will then be inevitable. This is a formidable challenge for our President, for national/provincial/local government, for civil society, and even for communities like Port Elizabethans and MHA family. We will get through this together, as a united nation. We are resilient and loving people; we must just work together. 

Here are a few tips for sharpening your Safety & Security protection: 

  • If you have Trellidor or Xpanda-type protection over your front/back doors, lock them every night 
  • Lock your front and back doors, your garage door and side door, and any sliding doors, every night 
  • Make sure that your Atlas panic button is within arm’s reach 24/7, especially at your bedside 
  • Keep a fully charged mobile phone at your bedside at night, and have a list of Emergency numbers 
  • Do not hesitate to push the panic button; if you hear a noise at night, and you know it’s not your neighbour, or your spouse snoring or your joints clicking or tummy rumbling, push the button! 
  • Do not go outside of your unit to investigate a noise or movement; leave that to Atlas 
  • Do not leave valuable items in plain view (eg. laptop, mobile phone, radio, camera, handbag) 
  • Lock all windows at night, other than one in the bedroom (Autumn is here, so it should be easy) 
  • Beware of pickpockets when you go shopping; only carry what is essential in your bag or pocket 
  • Where possible, only use an ATM situated in a busy shopping centre. Don’t accept offers of help 
  • Before leaving your village, make sure that all car doors are locked (and on your return trip too). 


Keep yourselves, and your neighbours, safe. 

BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Following a meeting with his Cabinet on Monday, President Ramaphosa will be addressing the nation on TV tonight; at this stage the time has not been announced. It will definitely be interesting, but probably full of news that we would prefer not to hear just before going to sleep, or at all  

Our President and our Health Minister have been clear and regular in their communicating to the nation, and we should all be hugely grateful for that. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #15: MONDAY 20 APRIL 2020  

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+4=25 

We would like to start the week by sharing with you some of what MHA has been doing over the past month to prepare ourselves for the potential Covid-19 onslaught. We believe that we have done a lot!! 

  • On Friday 20 March 2020 MHA locked down its two Frail Care units, its 3-bed Recovery Room and its two Bedsitter units, fully a week before Government implemented the national Lockdown 
  • The MHA Infection Control policy was updated, and strictly enforced via staff training and awareness. This includes the outsourced catering staff, and is ongoing throughout MHA 
  • Sanitizer dispensers are positioned throughout MHA’s facilities, and use of these by staff and any outsiders is enforced 
  • A dedicated private taxi service was hired, in order to collect all staff from their homes, bring them to work, and then take them home again after their shift. This too is ongoing 
  • Visitors are banned, and entry by staff is strictly controlled. This continues to be strictly enforced 
  • On arrival for their shift, all staff have a mandatory thermometer check, which is recorded 
  • On Friday 17 April a specialist cleaning firm sprayed both Frail Care units and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters with a high-level disinfecting and sanitizing agent, and this will be repeated every fortnight 
  • During these two procedures all residents, staff and even two pets were moved to the exterior of the buildings; it was a beautiful morning, and everyone soaked up the sun and the relative freedom! 
  • Regarding personal protective equipment (PPEs), all nursing/caring staff have been issued with a material mask (mouth/nose), as well as a full-face mask, as used in hospitals and operating theatres. Use of these is strictly enforced. Gloves are always available 
  • A dedicated 4-6 bed Isolation Ward has been established adjacent to CP Bradfield frail care, if and when it is required. Specialized PPE barrier suits are available for use by staff there 
  • The Matrons of both Frail Care units meet daily, in order to swap notes regarding safety and procedures, and to plot the way forward. The CEO is kept fully informed in this regard, and he informs the rest of CovidCom and the Board where necessary 
  • Occupational therapy has taken on a new emphasis, in order to avoid boredom on the part of residents. All staff were trained by our OT practitioner in this regard, prior to lockdown, and are actively involved in stimulating residents physically and mentally, as much as possible 
  • A dedicated mobile phone with Skype has been introduced at CP Bradfield, to enable residents and their families to communicate with/see one another, where this service is requested 
  • Bedsitter residents continue to enjoy breakfast and supper in addition to the lunch which is provided in terms of their monthly Levy. MHA continues to absorb the cost of these additional meals. 


********** 

The MHA Board, Management, CovidCom and staff are most appreciative of the many messages of thanks, praise and affirmation which are being expressed daily by residents, their families, and by others. It certainly motivates those entrusted with your safety and protection to be proactive, alert, and on guard. The covid.concern@methomes.co.za e-mail link has certainly helped with communication, in this regard. 

We want to share this one with you (the author/resident asked for anonymity): 

“I want to thank you so much for the positivity and encouraging daily updates as well as the wonderful work you and the CovidCom team are doing in keeping all our residents safe and up to date. The lockdown instituted by MHA has definitely been very well worthwhile and commendable, as well as the rules for our safety and wellbeing. The Managers, staff and carers in our frail care facilities and Gillian are certainly doing a wonderful job from all accounts, and are definitely to be commended for being so ready to help where needed. Our own Manager and his wife are a shining example of this and very special caring people. 

Your Newsflash of Friday 17th is very heartwarming indeed. There is definitely something very special about World War veterans, not only for their efforts and sacrifices during the War but in their spirit. On my recent visit to the UK to visit my sick brother I was “taken under the wing” of (or as my husband jokingly called it “picked up” by) one of the veterans who was on his way to attend the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy landings at the time. What an amazing gentleman and one of the kindest people I have ever met. Having recognized that I was terrified of flying, let alone going all that way on my own for a particularly sad reason, he never left my side until we were seated on the plane, with him in first class thanks to the War Veterans Society who had invited him to attend and paid for his ticket, whilst I was in the “cheap seats” i.e. economy! He had some really amazing memories and stories which he shared with me, I suspect to keep my mind occupied while we waited to board our plane for the next leg of the journey. A reminder that out of terrible adversity came some truly fantastic, heroic people, and here we are again with adversity paying another visit to the world! Let’s hope we emerge with the same indomitable spirit those wonderful men and women did. 

Keep up the great work and thank you again for your and CovidCom’s efforts to protect us from all this sadness and madness in the world right now.” 

(The above cartoon tribute to Captain Tom, depicting a dapper, upright nonagenarian using his walker, and wearing his medals, appeared in a British newspaper. It says everything!) 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #14: FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+1=22 

 At present, Captain Tom Moore is one of the best known and most loved people on the planet! He has seemingly risen from nowhere to the status of near national treasure. 

So, who is this man? 

  • He is a 99-year-old war veteran (India and Burma in WWII) who has raised more than £18m (that’s R420 000 000 as at yesterday’s rate!) for the NHS in England, and has been hailed as a "one-man fundraising machine" by the Duke of Cambridge, who is also quoted as saying: “It's amazing, and what I love also is that he's a 99-year-old war vet. He's been around a long time, he knows everything, and it's wonderful that everyone has been inspired by his story and his determination. Who knows what the final total will be. But good on him, and I hope it keeps going." 
  • Capt Tom, as he is affectionately known, began raising funds to thank NHS staff who helped him with treatment for cancer and a broken hip. It has now been expanded to embrace all those NHS workers who are currently on “the front line”, as he puts it 
  • He originally aimed to raise just £1,000 for “NHS Charities Together” by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday on 30 April 2020. With the aid of a walking frame, yesterday he completed the 100 laps of the 25-metre loop in his garden in Bedfordshire, in 10-lap chunks, well before he has hit his century! 
  • As he finished the final lap he said: “I feel fine; I hope you’re feeling fine too”! 
  • More than 890,000 people have now made donations to his JustGiving fundraising page 
  • Half a million people have so far called for Capt Tom to be knighted, in a petition to the Honours Committee 
  • He has given these words of advice about coping with the Coronavirus lockdown: “You’ve all got to remember that we will get through it in the end; it will all be right. For all those people finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine on you again, and the clouds will go away” 
  • His daughter said: “He’s a beacon of hope in dark times, and I think that we all need something like this to believe in, and it’s for such an amazing cause”. 


What a pity that Capt Tom doesn’t live in South Africa, in one of our MHA villages; he would certainly fit in perfectly!! 

Raise a glass to this inspirational man!

SOUND FAMILIAR?! 

Last night New Yorkers across the city lovingly belted out "New York, New York" from their windows, in a giant singalong meant to boost morale, and honour the city's essential workers. 

Led by the all-volunteer Peace of Heart Choir, everyone in the “city that never sleeps” was invited to sing Frank Sinatra's classic song for the event, dubbed "New York Sings Along," starting at 7.02PM. New Yorkers were encouraged to lean out of their window, or head out to their terrace, and raise their voice! 

Andrew Dykeman, the co-chairman of Peace of Heart Choir, said in a statement: "Today, our communities are disrupted—we cannot gather as we normally do to rehearse and perform, talk and discuss, drink, eat, practice yoga, meditation, exercise, or even work. At the same time, while so many of us are sheltering in place, others are New Yorkers tirelessly fight the global pandemic and help maintain essential services, laboring in the city’s hospitals, supermarkets, subways and buses, and more. As choir members, we know that singing brings people together. This is our way of sparking a greater sense of community, while still maintaining appropriate physical distance. We can raise our voices together to honor those who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and cared for. We welcome other choirs and singers of all ages, and from every neighborhood, to join in." 

In future weeks, the choir, which performs in the city’s nursing homes, hospitals and shelters, may choose different songs for the citywide performance. 

This is wonderful, New Yorkers; great stuff; inspiring. Your President and your impressive Governor should be proud of you. Seriously. 

But if only you could have heard what members of the MHA family have been doing since even before SA’s official lockdown, and what they still do; when night falls you’d have heard pots and pans being clanged together, glasses clinking, singing, shouting, clapping, whistling, shouts of encouragement and thanksgiving; even one crazy Manager running around making huge noise with her Vuvuzela! 

Now THIS is how you raise morale, honour, celebrate, spark a greater sense of community, to quote Mr Dykeman. 

As always, you need to learn from the “old and wise”, especially those who are part of the MHA family!!! 

Have a wonderful weekend. To our own “essential workers”, especially our nursing and caring staff, we give thanks each and every day for who you are, for what you are, and for the magnificent work that you do. 

Back on Monday!! 


 COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #13: THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 21 


Well, midnight tonight was going to be cause for celebration, as the twenty-one day Lockdown ground to a halt. All South Africans have been instructed to put the fireworks back in the cupboard, and the champagne back in the fridge, and stay home, as we now have a fortnight’s extension to endure. 

The disturbing images on TV, in the Herald and elsewhere are real; there is so much misery, hunger, frustration, fear, abuse, misinformation, denial and desperation “out there”; except that this time it is not in a Syrian refugee camp, or other community or country on which the world has turned its collective back. This time it is in our own back yard, not just “out there” somewhere, in a far-off land. Turning off TV or turning to the Sport page doesn’t make it go away. 

We, the members of the MHA family, are so blessed in so many ways. As a community, Port Elizabethans have always rallied together in times of crisis, and the rest of 2020 will require us to again come together as one, to do whatever we can to ensure that it’s not just the passengers travelling First Class who survive this disastrous trip. We will be called upon to open our hearts and our minds, and even our wallets, to be a part of the solution. 

There is truth and substance in the saying “Charity begins at home”. There are many MHA residents who are technically destitute, and MHA must and will respond to their plight. CovidCom and the Managers are in earnest conversation about this. For 2020, at least, “home” means the MHA community, but also the wider PE community. Where and how we are able to, we must all play a part (more on this soon). 

********** 

A friend of Margaret Kennedy (Annesley Gardens) shared this beautiful prayer, which we now also share: 

Our Heavenly Father, amidst all the sadness, worry and desperation that we are witnessing, across our country and the world, there has been plenty of time for silent reflection and so much to be thankful for. 

Our beautiful and diverse country; our mountains and our magnificent coastline; our wild life reserves and the open land of the Karoo. 

During these days of isolation we notice more readily the birds that feed in our gardens, the myriad of butterflies that pepper the air at the present time. You have blessed us with the wildlife big and small which brings us so much joy and entertainment, not only for us but the thousands of visitors to our shores annually. 

Lord we are so aware that all of nature in its magnificence is of your hand, and we are blessed to be part of your creation. Help us to look after our world better, to be better custodians, to be more respectful and caring, and to practice the best environmental principles as we move on and out of these difficult times. In all the world's beauty we see your image; a reminder, dear Lord, of how great you are and how blessed we are to have you in our lives. Amen 

********** 

NOT EVERYTHING IS CANCELLED! 

  • Sunshine is not cancelled 
  • The Four Seasons are not cancelled 
  • Love and Relationships are not cancelled 
  • Reading is not cancelled 
  • Naps are not cancelled 
  • Devotion is not cancelled 
  • Music is not cancelled 
  • Dancing is not cancelled 
  • Imagination is not cancelled 
  • Kindness is not cancelled 
  • Conversations are not cancelled 
  • Waving is not cancelled 
  • Hope is not cancelled 


 



COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #12: WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 20 

 

Good day, everyone. 

At a CovidCom/Managers meeting held this morning, there was a lot of positive feedback about what residents feel about the daily Newsflash editions, in general. We try to balance helpful information with some uplifting bits and pieces, and with some amusement thrown in! We try! 

Martin Schäfer, German Ambassador to South Africa, wrote a column published in News24 on 12 April 2014. It was full of praise for our President in making bold decisions, and also in facilitating the repatriation of 5000 German and other EU tourists who were stranded in SA. It is lengthy, and deals mainly with the repatriation mission (“Home is the best place to be, in such a dramatic crisis”, he said), but also contains encouraging general comments. Here are some excerpts from his article: 

  • They say that times of crisis reveal our true character. My personal experience in these challenging last few weeks confirms that 
  • In the midst of deep feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty, as well as understandable frustrations about the limitations brought about by the strict lockdown rules, there have been so many encounters of kindness, solidarity and humanity 
  • We can choose whether we act with resolve and courage or whether we procrastinate and dither. We can choose between repression or our unwavering trust in enlightened citizens. We can choose whether we indulge in selfishness, nationalism and fear or whether we strive to help the weaker, and live in a spirit of solidarity and empathy 
  • All of these choices will shape our lives; not only during the crisis, but far beyond 
  • Leadership is not about pleasing everyone; it is about vision, it is about the right balance, about taking informed and measured decisions, after scientifically-based advice by experts; it is about finding the right timing and the willingness to be bold and resolute, if necessary 
  • The virus doesn’t care about the colour of our skin, the passports we hold, or the country we happen to live in. It affects us all 
  • Enlightened citizens do not need to be forced to do what is needed; they understand that it is the right thing to do, and that these (lockdown) measures are necessary to save lives, and work to their own good. 


It is most encouraging when one reads or hears words of praise about leadership shown, hard decisions taken, early actions put in place, and the support for all of that by the population. We are blessed as a country to have a decisive President and Health Minister, and everyone marching behind them, to lead us forward into battle. So too is the MHA family blessed to have a decisive CEO and Nursing Services Manager, and everyone marching behind them, to lead us forward into battle. God bless them all. 

This is a wake-up call, and a plea, to humankind (author unknown): 
“And just like that, money, fame, power and beauty are worthless. 

Mother Nature’s message to us all: 
You are not necessary. 
The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. 
When you come back, remember that you are my guests, not my masters” 

Hygiene: 

Being clean is a sign of spiritual purity or goodness, as in “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. This phrase was first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778, but the idea is ancient, found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts. 

There was a classic piece of graffiti in Dublin in the 60s; on a wall was lavishly painted “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, and underneath someone had scribbled: 

(yes, but only in the Irish dictionary) !! 

Covid-19 has made us fanatical, almost insanely obsessive or paranoid at times, about cleanliness, washing hands, avoiding contact with others, social distancing, wearing a mask when shopping, or wiping down every imaginable surface with a nuclear-powered germ-killer. Most of this is essential, as the Coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes; generally you can catch it if you are within a two metre range, or by touching an infected surface or object. 

Is it any wonder, then, that Sanitization and Sanity are next to one another in the English dictionary?! 

COMING UP----------------- 

We’ll be focusing on what is happening in those MHA facilities where living independently or with some assistance is not a choice. We will share with you what we have been doing within our Frail Care units and our Recovery Rooms, even before the official Lockdown and since; how we have geared ourselves up to cope with the Covid-19 enemy; how our residents and staff are being protected; how we are keeping the facilities as germ-free as we possibly can; and what we are doing to keep loved ones in touch with residents there. The scenario changes daily, even hourly, and there is plenty going on in the engine room! 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray) 

CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 

COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #11: TUESDAY 14 APRIL 2020

 LOCKDOWN: DAY 19 

 Since the Newsflash issued last Thursday, quite a lot has happened. 

Firstly, the good news: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!! We hope that you all had a Blessed Easter, albeit in circumstances probably unlike any other since WWII (a lovely nonagenarian resident in a MHA village recently shared that Easter 2020 would be the first one in over 90 years of her life where she wouldn’t be able to celebrate in a church). 

Secondly, and as you know all too well, Lockdown has been extended to 30 April 2020. As individuals, as communities and as a country, we are being tested and stretched in every way. We have to remain compliant, courageous, and together; more on that subject in the days ahead. 

For those residents who did military service, you will know what this means: VASBYT, MANNE!!! 

********** 

Members of your CovidCom, together with the Complex Managers, swapped notes over the weekend, around the merits or otherwise of re-opening the libraries in our six villages. There are compelling arguments for and against, and some requests and input have been received from individuals, for which we thank you, but this is what has been decided by the CEO, supported by his Managers and by the Board: 

  • The libraries must remain closed, at least while Lockdown remains 
  • The Disaster Management Act, which gave effect to the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster, is specific about what amenities may remain open, and which ones must close during lockdown. Libraries of whatever description must remain closed, and MHA cannot and will not contravene that ruling 
  • Three of our villages (Aldersgate, Wesley Gardens and Annesley Gardens/Sheariton) are bisected by public roads, which MHA residents should not cross. It would be unfair to open the library in any of those villages, as each village only has one hall/one library. 


MHA Management are keenly aware of the great value, entertainment, companionship and escape which books bring to residents. We regret that there is no alternative, at this time. 

********** 

Here is a saying, author unknown, which beautifully and simply highlights what we, as members of the MHA family, should try our hardest to embrace in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic: 

“It is in the midst of change we often discover wings we never knew we had” 

********** 

Thanks go to the ever cheerful, positive and community-minded Syd and Sheila Corbett of Cassia Gardens for contributing this piece (author unknown): 

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE PENCIL MAKER? 

A pencil maker taught a pencil 5 important lessons: 

1. Everything you do will always leave a mark 
2. You can always correct the mistakes you have made 
3. Most important is what is inside you 
4. In life you will undergo painful sharpening which will make you a better pencil 
5. To be the best pencil you can be, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the Hand that holds you. 

************ 

Our Nursing Services Manager, Sanet Marx, sent us a World Health Organization poster, containing excellent advice. The poster was in shades of blue, and wouldn’t look good in this photocopied Newsflash, so we have picked out the best bits to share with you here: 

  • Check the sources of anything you read; be careful of misinformation and fear-mongering 
  • Practice social distancing, but not social isolation. Keep in contact with loved ones as far as you can 
  • Speak about your anxieties, connect with friends over Whatsapp, and call your family 
  • Do what you can, and then let go. So much of this is out of your individual control now 
  • Take a social media and news break when you feel overwhelmed. It is important to sometimes limit the information you receive, until you are able to respond to it without panic 
  • Deep breaths; again, and again, and again 
  • Continue practicing self-care. Do what you can with what is available. 


And here is one which didn’t appear on the WHO poster, but it is hugely important to remember: 

  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this time of Covid-19 crisis, even if at times you feel that this is so. Please turn to your neighbour, to your Manager, to our Professional Nurse/Counsellor; you will be amazed at how many people are in your circle who will offer you love, comfort, protection, direction, strength, or a listening ear (you just won’t get that badly needed hug or social visit at the moment!). 


*********** 

To end off, this silly piece has been doing the rounds lately. If it doesn’t make you smile, you have a problem.

Be careful; people are going crazy from being locked down. Actually I’ve just been talking about this to the toaster and microwave while drinking coffee, and all of us agreed that things are getting bad. I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she puts a different spin on everything; and certainly not to the fridge because he is acting cold and distant. In the end the iron calmed me down as she said everything will be fine, no situation is too pressing. The vacuum was very unsympathetic; told me to just suck it up, but the fan was more optimistic and hoped it would all soon blow over. The toilet looked a bit flushed when I asked its opinion and didn’t say anything but the door knob told me to get a grip. 

The front door said I was unhinged and so the curtains told me to---yes, you guessed it---pull myself together. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray)  
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 


PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #09: WEDNESDAY 08 APRIL 2020 

 LOCKDOWN: DAY 13 

 We have all heard the expression “The show must go on”. It means that the proceedings (whatever they might be) must continue, no matter what unfortunate event has occurred. This expression is also a theatrical credo dating from the 1800s and was transferred to other situations in the first half of the 1900s. Here endeth today’s history lesson! 

The first quarter’s edition of our Newsletter, “MHA on the Bay” has always reached readers before Easter. We are living in extraordinary times, which could produce pretty ordinary excuses, but this won’t apply to your Easter 2020 edition of MHAOTB; it will be delivered to your door (or, in the case of staff, into your hands) during the course of tomorrow, in time for Easter! Yes, the show must go on!! 

You will, we hope, forgive us when you discover that edition #29 (Easter 2020) is in fact “MHAOTB Lite”! Printers are closed during Lockdown, and in any event your editorial team believes that this is not the appropriate time in history to present a Newsletter crammed full of the usual feel-good material, covering events and happenings within our MHA world. So Edition #29 will be different, and shorter! It only has two articles, and we hope that you will still find them helpful, at a time when we need all the help and encouragement we can. 

We are grateful, as always, to Michele at CopyShop for her assistance with layout and printing. 

********** 

In last Thursday’s Newsflash #05 we quoted Rev Robin Wright of Annesley Gardens/Sheariton. The ever erudite Robin writes an editorial piece in his Village’s monthly Newsletter; his recent contribution was that good that, with his permission granted, we want to share it with all who read these Newsflashes (and here’s a “shout out” to all the readers from overseas and around the country---we know you’re out there, and we appreciate your positive feedback!!). This is what Robin wrote: 

“I have just read that William Shakespeare may have written some of his best plays during a period of isolation due to the plague. With that in mind who knows how this effort of mine may turn out? Perhaps it will still be avidly read 400 years from now? If you would like a signed copy, for posterity, please bring me a printed version after lockdown is over, and I will oblige [cost to be negotiated]. 

Much ado about nothing: Methinks not! There are people dying out there and some of us could join them, as we form one of the most vulnerable groups, the elderly, aged, mature, whatever. Northern Italy should be a sobering lesson for the likes of us. They have [had] an older community. So don’t write off the measures taken by MHA. I think at one stage we, MHA, were way ahead of Mr Trump and his casual ‘it will go away’ attitude. Our Management team were already busy making provision for our protection. It seems that the world agrees with what has been done – the lockdown is for our own good. 

As you like it: So let’s do what many of the inmates of Maximum Security facilities [prisons] do. They read, exercise, study, they learn trades and skills. I’m going to get back to playing my guitar, and if anyone wants to borrow my trumpet you are welcome [as long as you live at the other end of Annesley Gardens or in Sheariton]. My model railway needs a lot of attention, and there are some appliances that need fixing. I have a number of tuits in my garage which might be of help to someone. They are the very rare round ones and are so useful for getting things done; you know, all those little jobs that you will do when you get a round tuit. 

All’s well that ends well: This is certainly the hope of all of us, and is far more likely with co-operation from everyone, and minimal Taming of the shrew required from our Management or the State authorities. Minister of Police Bheki Cele has threatened ‘if you go to church on Sunday you will be jail on Monday’! 

Hamlet: It has the well-known soliloquy ‘to be or not to be, that is the question’. We are all encouraged to reduce risk to ourselves and our neighbours, to take responsibility for ourselves and others, to stop and think how our actions might affect someone else. To be the channel through which another became ill would be a terrible thing. How best can we avoid that? That is the question! 

CovidCom has wise counsel for us all, carefully and thoughtfully compiled by people who care, but they can only suggest and encourage. We have to respond: it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves!!” 

**************** 

Who remembers, and listened to, “Test the Team” on SABC radio, from 1957 until the early 80’s? The team comprised Prof Arthur Bleksley, Eric Rosenthal and Grant Loudon. They were a formidable team, with prodigious general knowledge, and nicknamed “the three wise men”. In each weekly episode they were given entertaining brain-teaser questions submitted by listeners, which they had to answer, or be stumped. 

My favourite, which had the three wise men stumped, went like this: 

A man walks into his neighbourhood hardware shop (do you remember those, the mom & pop stores like Walmer Paint & Hardware cnr Main Rd/9th Ave, run by Vic and Joyce Hoxley?!), he points to a product, and the conversation goes: 

Customer: “How much are those?” 
Shopkeeper: “They are R5.50 each, sir” 
Customer: “Fine. I’ll have 87, please” 
Shopkeeper: “Thank you. That will be R11.00, please” 

What was the customer buying? You will have to wait until tomorrow’s Newsflash for the answer! 

*************** 

We’re into Day 13 of Lockdown; the Terrible Teens. A psychiatrist said: “It's normal for teens to get moody, frustrated, and irritable from time to time.” Please don’t behave like a teenage brat today 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray)  

CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #08: TUESDAY 07 APRIL 2020  

LOCKDOWN: DAY 12 

   PLEASE TAKE NOTE: 

CovidCom has received reports from Managers that some residents either do not understand what Lockdown means, or are flouting the rules which are in place. PLEASE understand that the rules which MHA has imposed are in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, which actioned the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster. We have to comply. It’s the law. 

We therefore draw your urgent attention to the following: 

1. MHA turns a blind eye to your occasionally walking around the inner roads of your complex, individually or as a couple, because we believe that, as elderly folk, you have a fundamental right to exercise, to keep yourselves physically, mentally and emotionally in shape, to the best of your ability. Being in touch with nature, and waving at neighbours, is good for your spiritual health too! 

2. As far as possible, keep clear of the gates and the paths alongside the perimeter fences (we don’t want your walking to attract attention from nosey, jealous or vindictive outsiders!) 

3. Do NOT walk in groups, whether organized or not, and do not gather around in groups, chatting. Don’t convert occasional walking into social occasions; the risk of spreading the virus is there 

4. A cottage resident MAY NOT visit someone in another cottage, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstances, even if you think that keeping a 2 metre distance is okay 

5. You MAY NOT organize or hold a gathering in your cottage or on your patio, for example to play cards, hold a prayer meeting/bible study/church service, or for any other purpose. Likewise, you are not allowed to use any of the common property beyond your unit for these or other purposes 

6. NO VISITORS are permitted to enter any MHA facilities. There are a couple instances where residents’ family bring food. This is allowed, BUT those visitors are NOT permitted to enter a cottage to drop off the food, or to pay a visit, however brief. As tough as it is, respect the 2 metre social distancing 

7. LOCKDOWN means being locked down in your own home, physically distancing yourself from other people, and venturing out only to make essential purchases at your nearest supplier, or to go to the chemist or the doctor. That is the law, and is being practised almost worldwide right now. 

Please forgive the “lecture”, but complying with Lockdown is a serious, literally life-or-death matter. Consider this: if you get infected with the virus (for example, via someone in a shop) and you unwittingly pass it on to another person, then that’s two of you infected. You each infect one other person; that’s four infected. Then it becomes 8; then mathematically it becomes 16---32---64---128--- and on. Before you know it, a whole community or a city is infected. Yes, it is that serious. Please take it seriously. 

Hats off to the Hawtreys!!! 

Basil and Joan Hawtrey of Aldersgate are a gregarious, noisy, fun-loving couple. They are a valuable part of the social fabric of their village. Memories of the food and fun enjoyed at the “Basil’s Bistro” evenings will live on in history! 

On 18 February 2020 they set off on holiday to visit their microbiologist daughter in Phnom Penh, capital city of Cambodia, little knowing what lay ahead for them. While there, the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing in China, but Cambodia was really not affected (there were 9 confirmed cases while they were there, and even now there are only 116 cases). Inhabitants and tourists moved about freely, most without face masks. Life was pretty normal in Phnom Penh, and for the Hawtreys. 

That was all about to change, as they prepared for their return to South Africa. At OR Tambo airport, before anyone disembarked, the SA Department of Health checked the temperature of every passenger on their flight from Hong Kong. In their absence overseas, MHA had locked down its Frail Care units, and partial lockdown of the villages had commenced. By the time that they landed in PE on 24 March, MHA had already been in touch with them, breaking the distressing news that they would have to return to their cottage in complete self-isolation, not even being allowed to venture out for a stroll, or go to the shops. So they were quite prepared when the country-wide lockdown came into effect on 26 March. 

Some of what they faced on their return to their cottage was: 

  • Aldersgate Managers Susan and Jannie Bosch kindly put some initial supplies in the kitchen 
  • Neighbours and friends kept them in supply of the basic requirements, and some meals 
  • Contact with the outside world was via phone, or chatting with their neighbours over the wall 
  • They couldn’t go beyond their stoep or back garden 
  • Joan got stuck into a 1500-piece puzzle, not yet finished. Basil lost 2kg!! 
  • They were stoic, accepting and courageous in dealing with fourteen days of complete isolation. 


Basil and Joan were “released from jail” yesterday; the first thing they did with their new semi-freedom was to hit the shops. They have stocked up on the essentials they had missed, and need. Joan expected some flowers, but instead Basil bought himself some chocolates and chips! 

Well done, Basil and Joan; you were cheerful and uncomplaining, and you are an example to us all  


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #07: MONDAY 06 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 11 

 

 Today we pay tribute to our Managers. 

For some while now MHA has engaged the services of Charné Eaton, who is a Social Worker in private practice. One of the principal functions Charné performs for MHA is to provide supervision to our Managers, those who spend their waking hours caring for others. In simple terms this means that she engages with the Managers, individually or in a group, to provide them with a safe space in which to “offload”. Charné obviously can’t engage face-to-face with our Managers during Lockdown, so we share below, with her permission, what she recently communicated to all of them. It is inspiring and motivating, and worth sharing with the wider MHA family, as it contains lessons and wisdom for all of us! 

“I am pleased that I was able to connect via telephone/WhatsApp call to hear from each of you. 

It’s during these very strange and unprecedented times especially that technology can really work for us as we try to maintain connection. 

It is wonderful that you have such clear direction and clear expectations from Management who so regularly keep you informed and updated. I have no doubt that this must help tremendously to ground each of you as you navigate this very different situation. 

Choosing to be alone versus being forced to be alone are such different scenarios, and one in which different personalities will start presenting with unique ways of coping in this time of crisis. The part that brings a sense of hope is to remind ourselves, and fellow residents, that we are still in this TOGETHER even though they have to be APART. 

I have used the following two words, “Together Apart” as acronyms to convey some of my practical recommendations for my clients and supervision groups during this time. I hope this will be helpful to you as Managers. 

TOGETHER 

T= Continue to TALK to people using the telephone, email, WhatsApp voice notes etc 
O= OFFER emotional support and understanding during this time 
G= Practice GRATITUDE and express what you are grateful for 
E= ELIMINATE negative information overload 
T= TAP into your individual inner strengths and the strengths of those who care about you 
H= Try to stay in the HERE and now. Ask yourself: what can I do that will give me a sense of calm now? 
E= Acknowledge your EMOTIONS. It’s ok to be feeling confused and fearful, it’s ok to feel angry, it’s ok to feel lonely, it’s ok to feel frustrated... you are adjusting to very different circumstances 
R= RENEW your mind with God’s Word 

APART 

A= APPRECIATE that being physically apart is protective 
P= Give yourself and others PERMISSION to express themselves. Understand that we are all different and have different needs and different coping styles when we are in crisis 
A= ACCEPT the things you can’t control and the wisdom to know the difference 
R= Be REALISTIC by recognizing this situation is necessary for now, and comply with the regulations 
T= TRUST God and keep your faith, knowing that this is TEMPORARY. 

Your roles as Managers are essential in reassuring residents, remaining calm within the storm. Remember to rest and let go of those things you can’t control. I encourage those of you who need to debrief, to make use of telephone calls or e-mail me. The sense of responsibility to keep residents as safe as possible is weighing heavily on all of you and especially when we consider the frail care staff. 

I will be in touch via email with some tips on managing loneliness and sadness during times of lockdown. I invite you to let me know what your supervision needs are during the weeks that follow. Take care and keep safe”. 

Thank you, Charné, for the fantastic, supportive work you do amongst our hard-working Managers! 

************************** 

A poem was written in March 2020, specifically about Covid-19, by Catherine (Kitty) O'Meara of Wisconsin USA. It has been inaccurately attributed to Kathleen O'Meara who was a writer during the late Victorian era; but she did not write a poem "And the people stayed home" about those who suffered during the Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. That sets the records straight! 

Crediting "spirit" with the writing process, Kitty apparently matter-of-factly said: "I just kind of sat down and wrote it. I saw the maps of the receding pollution over China and Europe, and I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.' And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing." This is Kitty’s inspirational poem, her dream of a better tomorrow: 

And the people stayed home 

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. 

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. 

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #05: THURSDAY 02 APRIL 2020  

LOCKDOWN: DAY 8  

 Ideally this Newsflash should herald the arrival of Fantastic Friday or even Frivolous Friday, or usher in the weekend when you can continue to do the very minimum, but CovidCom want to share two pieces with you, both of which are in serious vein. We are, after all, living in serious times, not frivolous times. It is our hope that both pieces will be informative and be useful to you, as you cope with the road ahead. 

CEO Hein Barnard met with his Managers on 1 April 2020, and some of what was discussed in that meeting must be shared with residents, as follows: 

  • Only emergency repairs and maintenance will continue to be done 
  • Food and medical supplies delivered to cottages: no entry into a cottage is allowed 
  • There have been incidents where family came to visit parents; this is strictly prohibited 
  • Newspapers may NOT to be collected from the Manager’s office; other arrangements are to be made 
  • NO deliveries of food or groceries to the Manager’s office for distribution are permitted; this is deemed to be an unnecessary exposure of our Managers to the virus 
  • There are some isolated cases where residents require some tender loving care; some residents are struggling to get to grips with this unknown lockdown protocol, and with the virus threat. This has left a small minority of residents showing signs of sadness, or anger (not at MHA). This must be monitored and addressed by our professional nursing staff and the Managers 
  • It is gratifying to note that a spirit of camaraderie is evident throughout all Villages and the Bedsitters, with many residents asking Managers how they can help 
  • It was reported that very few residents visit our Managers’ offices during lockdown 
  • The issue of domestic services was discussed in detail. It was agreed that no further action will be taken during lockdown. We cannot expose our residents to any potential risks in this regard 
  • All Libraries are to remain closed 
  • Residents are permitted to continue walking within their Villages (try and keep away from perimeter pathways and gates). Social distancing and the “rules of the road” are to be strictly adhered to 
  • Residents are reminded that there are many hidden health risks associated with: 
  • Receiving medication packets from pharmacists 
  • Receiving cooked meals or groceries from shops (home deliveries e.g. Woolworths) 
  • Visits to shopping centres (touching any surface or product, not adhering to social distancing) 
  • The more visits made, more chances of contracting the virus 


Always view every situation from your “COVID-19” eyes – everything is suspect until you have sanitized!

“South Africa’s ruthlessly efficient fight against Coronavirus” 

This is the heading of an article published this morning by the BBC. In emphasizing his choice of headline, the journalist, their Africa correspondent Andrew Harding (who MHA acknowledges), begins his piece with a range of flattering and pertinent remarks. For example: 

  • “South Africa seems to have acted faster, more efficiently, and more ruthlessly than many other countries around the world” 
  • “Heading the fight against Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as a formidable leader; composed, compassionate, but seized with the urgency of the moment and wasting no time in imposing tough restrictive steps and galvanizing crucial support from the private sector 
  • “One rung below the President, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has likewise garnered near universal praise for his no-nonsense, energetic performance, and his sober, deeply knowledgeable, daily briefings” 
  • “A government so often attacked as corrupt and inefficient, and a private sector so often seen as aloof and greedy, are rising to meet what is widely anticipated to be the greatest challenge this young democracy has ever seen”. 


The article also unavoidably and truthfully paints a gloomy picture of what damage the virus could do. The journalist says: 

  • “Given that this (South Africa) is one of the world’s most unequal societies, it is already clear that the battle will be fought, lost, or won, in the country’s poorest communities” 
  • “It is also clear that---for all the impressive, skilled leadership available at the highest levels of the South African state, government, and private sector---years of cronyism, corruption and economic stagnation have damaged key institutions” 
  • “Those same concerns apply in provincial health departments, sometimes led by incompetent political appointees. They’re completely out of their depth, and very anti any co-operation with the private sector”. 


The message delivered in the BBC article pulls no punches, and what we have shared now is just a brief snapshot of the larger picture which the journalist paints. It is partly flattering and full of deserved praise, and it is partly a synopsis of the glaring, brutal truth about the challenges ahead. What is critically important, though, is that it emphasizes that South Africa, through its leadership structures, got off to a flying start (unlike the USA and Italy), and that government and citizens alike are taking Covid-19 seriously. We know that we are a resilient nation, we accept that we have been divided for centuries, we witness daily that factions remain, but right now we have to remain united as one, united as South Africans, and united in faith that we will defeat the monster which is trying to get through our doors. 

Make the most of your weekend, be kind and reach out to others, please don’t listen to depressing stories and news, and remain positive and healthy. Lastly-----Spray, and Pray!! 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #05: THURSDAY 02 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 7 

 Heated conversations and debates continue countrywide around the government’s recent decision that residents in secure complexes (like a MHA village) are prohibited from walking around their complex. Yet you can go to a busy supermarket and manoeuvre your trolley along crowded aisles, dodging fellow shoppers and packers. Worse still, the government relented yesterday to pressure from the taxi industry, with the result that crowded taxis are back on the roads. So much for the double standards around “social distancing”! 

CovidCom will be issuing a directive as soon as the dust has settled, and a Government Gazette issued; until then, just obey the “rules of the road”, as described in a previous Newsflash! Watch this space! 

Throughout history there have been many famous people with the surname Wright. Examples: Frank Lloyd Wright (famous American architect), brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright (credited with inventing the first successful powered airplane) and Always Wright (patron saint of wives and women!). Then there is Robin Wright, retired Methodist minister and, together with his long-suffering wife Marian, a resident of Annesley Gardens! Robin recently sent this lovely complimentary message to CovidCom, which we want to share with you: 

On behalf of the passengers on flight MHA 2020 we want to say THANK YOU for the care and concern of those on the flight deck. None of us know just how much turbulence we are going to face, so we will keep our seat belts fastened and will only leave our seats to go to the little boys room [or go to powder our noses]. Thank You Captain. You and the flight crew are always in our prayers - God Bless You. 

We also want to share the e-mail message received at CovidCom HQ yesterday from Neil McLaggan, MHA Board Chairman: 

My Dear Friends, 

Lockdown has caused me to again read a book from years ago, titled “Churchill and Smuts: the friendship” by Richard Steyn. It relates to the enduring friendship spanning more than 50 years, firstly as enemies and later as soldiers in two World Wars, of two great men whose efforts significantly contributed to the liberty we enjoy today. 

For me, the analogy becomes significant when I think of you two (Malcolm and Hein) at this time, both soldiers fighting---albeit a different type of war---side by side, the one “Engels”, the other “Boer”!!! 

This leads me to record my personal admiration and immense gratitude to the whole MHA staff and you for your fortitude during this time. In doing so, I surely am echoing the sentiments of the entire MHA family to you and the Covid committee as well. 

With warm regards, and pride in your efforts. 
Neil 
 

This beautiful piece was written by Donna Ashworth, an American author. We share it with you now, as a source of inspiration, and of hope for the future, which will surely come: 

“History Will Remember” 
History will remember when the world stopped 
And the flights stayed on the ground 
And the cars parked in the street 
And the trains didn’t run. 
History will remember when the schools closed 
And the children stayed indoors 
And the medical staff walked towards the fire 
And they didn’t run. 
History will remember when the people sang 
On their balconies, in isolation 
But so very much together 
In courage and song. 
History will remember when the people fought 
For their old and their weak 
Protected the vulnerable 
By doing nothing at all. 
History will remember when the virus left 
And the houses opened 
And the people came out 
And hugged and kissed 
And started again. 
Kinder than before. 

NOTICE FROM THE PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION 

Dear Citizens 
During quarantine time it is considered normal to talk to your walls, plants and pots. 
Kindly contact us only if they reply. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #04: WEDNESDAY 01 APRIL 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 6 

 It is sometimes not easy to achieve but, when things aren’t going as we would like them to do, we should do our best to take a moment to think of others less fortunate than we are. 

On Monday we were presented with the news that the SA Police Service have decreed that residents of complexes (like townhouses, and our MHA villages) are now prohibited from walking around outside of their house. This would impact negatively on MHA residents for a host of good reasons. The matter is the subject of further investigation by our CEO, so we won’t debate that issue today. Watch this space! 

On the same day, the lunchtime eNCA news channel 403 showed a reporter interviewing an elderly woman who had joined a queue at 06h00 in order to collect her SASSI pension pay-out for March, only to be turned away at 12h00 because “the machine ran out of money”. That woman, a chronic diabetic, had a headache, was shaking because of her sugar level and out of anger and frustration, and she then had to make her way home, without money and without any food to take back to her hungry dependants. Yesterday’s Herald told similar local stories of frustration, disappointment and desperation. 

MHA’s social responsibility outreach programme, Nikithemba, is a classic example of reaching out to those less fortunate than we are. This year heralds the fifteenth anniversary of our establishing this wonderful project; without interruption we have reached out to sixty indigent residents of the Gqebera township, providing them with nourishment and loving attention. Many are bedridden, all of them live way below the poverty line and, without exception, this Covid-19 monster has all of them in its crosshairs. Even in this time of Lockdown, and remembering that MHA is classified as an “essential service”, we continue to provide those beneficiaries with their weekly, potentially life-saving dry rations. This is how we are achieving it: 

  • Aldersgate Managers Susan and Jannie Bosch receive the bulk ingredients sourced from wholesalers and then, together with two residents, they pack the ingredients 
  • When they meet (yes, keeping a safe distance!) they pack 560 parcels, enough for two weeks 
  • George Bezuidenhout collects the packs from Aldersgate, delivers to Head Office, collects the week’s packs on a Monday morning, and then delivers to our dedicated Carers in Gqebera 
  • Those three ladies deliver four packets per resident per week (1 packet feeds 4 people), using trolleys which we purchased for them to distribute the food packs. 


The expression “the show must go on” certainly applies to Nikithemba, especially in these challenging times. It applies equally to the work which MHA does, across all of its facilities and services. In this regard we rely totally on the absolute commitment and professionalism of our staff, whether it’s the Cleaner or the CEO. On page 2 we share with you the letter which we addressed to our wonderful staff. 

TO ALL MEMBERS OF STAFF: METHODIST HOMES FOR THE AGED 30 March 2020 

Greetings to every member of staff, including the staff of EP Catering who work in MHA facilities. 

On Monday 16 March 2020 CovidCom (the committee set up within MHA to help manage the virus outbreak) sent out a letter to residents and staff. In that letter we explained what had already been put in place, and what further steps we might need to take. In these past two weeks so much has changed, across the world, as the Covid-19 virus spreads to every community in every country. In the past two weeks we locked down our Frail Cares and Bedsitters, and then came the national lockdown, imposed by our President. All of us, across the world, are living in difficult and uncertain times. 

The MHA Board, Management and CovidCom are doing everything in their power to protect our residents and our staff from the virus. This has called for some tough decisions, and putting into place new measures and procedures every day. We will continue to do this, until the virus is beaten. 

None of what we are doing to fight Covid-19 would be possible without the wonderful and dedicated work being performed by every member of the MHA staff. Our nursing staff, our carers, our cleaners, our Managers, our office staff and our catering staff have all done their best to come to work with a smile, and to perform their duties to the very best of their ability. We know that they then return home tired and weary, day after day, night after night, to look after those loved ones who they had to leave at home. We hope that you will share this letter with them, to let them know that MHA also values the support you receive from them. 

The Board and all of the residents of MHA salute you, one and all. Words really cannot sufficiently express the deep gratitude that we feel for the work that you all do, and for the way in which you do it. Even so, CovidCom receives e-mails and phone calls daily, from residents or from their loved ones who live nearby or overseas, telling us how grateful they are for the care and love which you, the MHA staff, give every single day. 

We ask and pray that you will remain safe and healthy, to enable you to continue to care for the 570 elderly or frail residents of MHA, especially those in our two Frail Cares. One of the world’s most famous nurses, Mother Theresa, said this: “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts”. She did wonderful nursing and caring work; she was an angel. All of you are angels too. May God bless you, as you continue your work. 

With best wishes and gratitude. 

Board and Management of MHA 

********** 

On that positive note, look after yourselves, wash behind your ears (why were we always told, as children, to do that?!), look out for others, stay hydrated, and maintain a safe distance. This is not the year for April Fool’s jokes or hoaxes; let’s keep them for 2021.




COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #03: TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020 

LOCKDOWN: DAY 5 

 Let’s be honest; we all like a pat on the back from time to time. It’s human nature. It affirms that what we are doing is heading us in the desired direction. Receiving constructive criticism is also healthy. 

The Board, Management and CovidCom are grateful for the words of encouragement, whether by phone, WhatsApp, SMS or e-mail. We wish to share with you some of the kind and complimentary messages recently received from residents and their families (some edited, for space purposes): 

  • As an ex-nurse I congratulate MHA on their speedy, well thought out plan of action. Respect! 
  • Just want to say thanks again for all you are doing, your decisive steps and great communication. We are grateful for the team and your concern for those in your care. 
  • Our sincere appreciation and wholehearted support in this exceptionally difficult time. This also being Lent, dealing with this matter is our call to reflect, and take our own sojourn in the desert. 
  • Thank you for all that is being done in an attempt to keep us safe. Much appreciated. 
  • Bulletin received with a sense of Gratitude for the sterling work to date. Stay safe, you and yours. 
  • I would just like to express our appreciation for the actions, decisions and communication. 
  • It is worrisome to have a loved one far away but very healing to know that they are well cared for. Thanks to all the staff members, as we could never be able to repay them for their sacrifices. 
  • I would like to thank you all most sincerely for the magnificent management of the lockdown. Your newsletters, care and love are so very much appreciated--kudos and respect. 
  • We applaud your courage and foresight to take action when you did. Thanks for the updates as well. 
  • We want to THANK YOU for your efforts in keeping all of us residents secure and informed. Your action has ensured that fewer residents will be ill. Also that Frail Care is well-staffed. 
  • CovidCom kry 10/10. Groete. 
  • Thank you for all your efforts in keeping us all informed and inspired during this time, for the early and proactive stance taken, for the safety measures implemented, and for the staff being well cared for. We appreciate receiving regular news, and thank you especially for the beautiful prayers shared. 


If you see a member of MHA staff, voice your gratitude, give them the thumbs-up, or blow them a kiss (from a distance of at least two metres, please!). Our staff, especially those in the front line of the war against Covid-19, are displaying exceptional courage and dedication to duty, and to their calling. We will never be able to thank them enough, but let’s start now, and often. God bless our staff. 

Let us end off today with some wonderful wisdom, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek; some even applies to the challenges we’re currently facing! 

(This piece has been around for ages, but author and artist are unknown, so we can’t acknowledge) 

THE WOODPECKER MIGHT HAVE TO GO!! 

Everything I need to know about life I learnt from Noah’s Ark: 

  1. Don’t miss the boat 
  2. Remember that we’re all in the same boat 
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark 
  4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something really big 
  5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done 
  6. Build your future on high ground 
  7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs 
  8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs 
  9. When you’re stressed, float awhile 
  10. Remember: the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals 
  11. No matter the storm, when you are with God there’s always a rainbow waiting 


Now, wasn’t that nice?! 


Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our wonderful staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: NEWSFLASH #02: MONDAY 30 MARCH 2020

LOCKDOWN: DAY 4 

 In preparation for this NEWSFLASH we asked three people for input which we could share with the MHA family. We hope that these pearls of wisdom and bits of advice will help you to cope. 

Board member Sister Lesley Lawson’s contribution: 

My thoughts are around our mental health! 

Today it feels good to lounge around in PJ's and lie on the couch, with permission! But......for three weeks, not good. 

I would suggest the following as some ideas to keep one's brain in good shape and hopefully, good mental health: 

  • Get up, showered and dressed, albeit in comfortable clothes. 
  • The days need structure, so make a list of things to do... Ideal to get those things done one puts off!! 
  • Try and have a daily routine and stick to it as far as possible. 
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching TV news. One needs to keep updated but it's depressing to watch all the time. 
  • This is a good time for reading, listening to music, doing a puzzle, crosswords, Sudoku etc. 
  • If you live alone make a plan to phone a friend each day at a certain time to check in with each other. Be alerted if they don't call or vice versa (but it can't be the Manager!!) 
  • Make use of technology.... WhatsApp, video link etc, to stay in touch with the outside world. 
  • Keeping a journal can be helpful, as is meditation; even breathing exercises can relieve the stress that will inevitably be felt. 

We need to acknowledge that being isolated for 3 weeks, whether alone or with family, is not the norm. It is a time like no other and brings frustration and fear. What if one gets the virus, will I die?! How can I kill my partner?!!!!! 

These are normal and understandable thoughts at times. If they become overwhelming it helps to talk things through with someone trusted. 

Hopefully we all have access to a kind, listening ear; or we can be that someone to somebody else. 

As I write this, I am aware of giving myself advice! 

This is day 4; strength for all the days as it gets harder to keep sane! 😎 

Warm regards. 
Lesley

CovidCom member and MHA professional nurse/counsellor Gillian le Roux’s contribution: 

This first week has been just so unusual, but I see more support being needed as the virus drags on; then it will no longer feel as though we're on holiday!! Normally holidays fly by so quickly, and are soon over, but this will not be the case with Covid-19, neither is it anything remotely like a holiday for most people, young or old, rich or poor. 

We have quite a few residents who are on chemotherapy, and whose immune systems are totally compromised. They need a lot of emotional support, as they are fully aware of their increased risk exposure. Also, they have to go to the Oncology facility alone. It is a very challenging time for those who are having chemo and other medical problems, even more so when one adds the fear of the virus to it, or the sadness of distancing from a loved one in hospital. 

A resident at one of the villages had a stroke last week. His wife shared with me that she feels as though she “dumped him there to die”; she wasn't allowed to visit him, and their children are all overseas. She subsequently got permission from the hospital to visit him once a day; one bit of good news in an otherwise desperate situation. How very frightening this must be for that entire family. A lot of counselling and emotional support is needed; the MHA family should pray hard for families like these. 

CovidCom member/retired GP Dr Steve Meihuizen’s contribution: 

  • Covid-19 is spread by droplets with coughing or sneezing, at a 1-2 metre range, or by touching an infected surface. Therefore wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible (preferably hourly), and use available sanitizers 
  • Do not shake hands, or hug. Stay 1-2 metres away from another person 
  • Do not touch your nose, ears or mouth with your hands 
  • Keep a distance of 2 metres from other people if you cough or sneeze, and especially those who are coughing or sneezing 
  • The virus lives for a variable time on different surfaces; about 6-8 hours on clothing to about 12 hours on stainless steel. Clean these work surfaces with antiseptics or heat 2-3 times per day. Washing clothes in the usual way is sufficient 
  • Drink plenty of liquids frequently 
  • Keep as physically fit as your circumstances allow 


Look after yourselves, look after others as much as you can, and be as positive as possible.

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our wonderful staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #08 26 MARCH 2020  

LOCKDOWN BEGINS AT MIDNIGHT!! 

If you have been watching the SA news, reading the papers and listening to the radio (which we urge you to do), you will probably be just as confused as the CovidCom members are at times. The goalposts just keep on moving! However, things should settle down. 

CovidCom wants to use this particular Bulletin to try to dispel some of the fears and an apparent lack of understanding which are surfacing about Lockdown. Many residents have posed questions to their Manager, and we thank you for speaking up. As we learn and experience more, we will share the information with you, so that our “jail time” will be as painless as possible. If ever there was a time for living in community, supporting and loving one another, and for listening to facts, but not fake news or rumours, it is now, and the stronger we will be as we, the billions of residents on planet Earth, journey into the unknown. 

Maybe our response to some of the FAQs (frequently asked questions!) will help you: 

Q: I have a job (not a defined “essential service”) to go to. Can I still go? 
A: No No No! Please understand only people working in an essential service, as defined by law, can leave their home and go to work. Should a MHA resident fall into this category, you will need to get approval from your Manager 

Q: Can I go to my doctor/a hospital to keep an appointment, or to receive medication or attention? 
A: You must not compromise your health, but you need to avoid going to a doctor or hospital unless it is an emergency or a threat to your wellbeing. You must check with your medical practitioner or advisor before going there. Now is not the time to be near a hospital, unless unavoidable. If you need help, ask for it. 

Q: A family member from another town has no job to go to at present. Can he come to stay with me during Lockdown? 
A: No, he cannot. Firstly, travel is forbidden during Lockdown. Secondly, the primary reason for Lockdown is to be isolated from others, as far as possible. Visitors to a MHA facility during Lockdown are forbidden; they too must abide by the Lockdown laws. This includes family (but see next question) 

Q: A family member helps me with my shopping, and getting to my doctor, as I don’t have a car. Can this continue during Lockdown? 
A: Yes, it can continue, but on a limited basis. However, such arrangements have to be restricted to pick-up and drop-off. The family member cannot combine this duty with a social visit to your cottage, or to take you on a detour somewhere. Limit your exposure to infection 

Q: What happens if I have a plumbing/electrical emergency in my cottage during Lockdown? 
A: Refer this to your Manager, who will make arrangements to assist you 

Q: I use an outside cleaning service in my cottage. Can I continue with that? 
A: No, you cannot. 

Q: Must I confine myself to the inside of my cottage and my piece of garden for the duration of the Lockdown? 
A: No. The primary purpose of the Lockdown nationally is to minimise the chance of the virus spreading (you getting it from others or giving it to others). It is probably going to be easier to catch the virus while walking down a supermarket aisle or at the check-out counter than contracting it within a MHA facility. So, until the authorities say otherwise, you may walk around the inner streets of your village. We urge you to obey the simple “rules of the road” in this regard; keep to the left, do not cross over the imaginary white centre line, and keep at least one square metre distant from anyone else. Please remember that you cannot go outside the perimeter of your village, unless going to the shop, doctor or the chemist 

Q: Can residents visit each other in their cottages? 
A: No No No. By doing that you have broken isolation. You could then give or get the virus. This is what Lockdown is all about----do everything possible to avoid the spread of the disease. This applies to neighbours, family, friends---everyone 

Q: Can we get together to play cards or a board game or cards? 
A: No No No. See above for the reasons why you cannot do that, during Lockdown 

Q: Are we to remain in our cottage/apartment, and not go out at all, until Lockdown is over? 
A: See above for our current ruling on walking about the streets of your village. The new laws governing Lockdown state clearly that you may go to a supermarket/food shop to make occasional purchases, or to go to a doctor/vet or chemist. Please remember that you need to avoid social/personal contact with others when you venture out in public 

Q: What about the hairdresser or foot/hand nail practitioner who comes to my village? Can I still use her services? 
A: No. Those don’t qualify as “essential services”, and so they cannot visit your cottage/village 

Q: What will happen to the existing and approved arrangements regarding delivery of food? 
A: Such arrangements should continue as before 

We are facing tough times indeed; within MHA, in our city and country, and across the world. By complying with the Lockdown rules and laws, we’ll all be playing a crucial part in preventing the spread of Covid-19. 

We urge you to comply. 

Keep safe, sanitize as often as you can, keep well hydrated, and love your neighbour. God bless you. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 





COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #07 24 MARCH 2020 


LOCKDOWN 

It is likely that almost all residents will have watched President Ramaphosa on TV last night and/or will have read the front-page news in today’s Herald. We are living in unprecedented and extraordinary times, which require radical measures and changed behaviours. If you want a copy of the President’s TV address, please contact MHA via covid.concern@methomes.co.za 

CovidCom met yesterday, and three members met again this morning. The landscape is changing at such a rapid rate that some of what we share with you now may be changed or updated by this afternoon! Let us share with you some of what we know, or are dealing with: 

Our Villages: 

  • “Lockdown” means that every citizen in the country, who is not involved in essential services or processes, must be confined to home during the 21 day lockdown period, other than to go out to do essential food shopping, buying medicines, or visiting a doctor. Otherwise you must stay in or around your cottage 
  • Doing shopping must not be a social occasion. Only visit your doctor by appointment 
  • MHA residents must not pay social visits to fellow residents or to outsiders, but it does not mean that you will not be allowed to wander around your village. Exercise is critically important for your physical, mental and emotional health right now 
  • Visits to your village or cottage by a non-resident is prohibited during lockdown 
  • The practices of sanitizing hands and keeping at least a metre distant from others cannot be emphasized enough. Do it all of the time, everywhere! 
  • PLEASE avoid spreading fake news or rumours. If you cannot be absolutely certain of the veracity of a piece of information, don’t share it. Negativity is the “other virus” we must fight against. Also, spreading fake news is now a punishable crime 


Our Frail Cares and Bedsitters: 

  • These facilities have been in lockdown for some days now. Residents must be applauded for the way in which they are coping with these unique and difficult times 
  • We are constantly looking at ways in which we can ease the disruption, the anxiety and the loneliness which lockdown brings. The needs and concerns of residents’ families, whether living in PE or across the globe, are also being addressed. We will be announcing some ideas in the coming days, in this regard 


Staff: 

  • Now, more than ever before, we need to be thankful for our dedicated staff who provide care and services across all of our facilities; all of them fall within the “essential services” category mentioned last night by the President. We have 112 staff serving the needs of 570 residents, and we must encourage and thank the staff whenever we can. We have been richly blessed by God for their presence, their passion, and their commitment to duty. 
  • The CEO and Nursing Services Manager, supported by others, are currently looking at very way in which we can ease the burden of staff at this challenging time; the issues of transportation to/from work and workplace hygiene are top of the list (since this morning’s meeting, we have secured the dedicated service of a minibus taxi to collect each Frail Care shift from their homes, and to return them after their shift). We continue to act swiftly and decisively, wherever we are able to do so. 


Head office: 

  • Hein Barnard and his Management team are also learning more about how a range of new factors might influence the smooth running of the MHA business during lockdown. Some examples are: 


             - Seamless continuation of the Atlas Security and Gardmed services 
             - The regular collection of domestic and other refuse 
             - The uninterrupted supply of healthcare products (sanitizers, gloves etc.) 
             - Back-up plans for every possible contingency, including actions to be taken if a Frail Care
               shift is compromised for any reason 
             - As Head Office will also be in lockdown, plans are in place for staff to work from home, so
               that business needs are met. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link 



COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #06 20 MARCH 2020 

As we implement our final “lockdown” steps, we have erected appropriate signage throughout all of our facilities. They look like this: 


We have received several e-mails via our covid.concern@methomes.co.za tool; some have passed compliments and votes of thanks on the MHA leadership, and for the tough decisions made; some have asked pertinent questions which have been answered within a day; and sadly some have expressed selfish concerns and/or demonstrated ignorance about the monster about to confront us in the City, and at our own doorsteps. The MHA Board and the Management team have gathered the best information and advice at our disposal, and have had the courage and the commitment to then act accordingly, in the best interests of our residents, staff and loved ones. We are prepared and armed to meet the Covid-19 monster at our doors. The only frustration is that we have yet to learn how big it is, or what it looks like. 

What has changed since the last Bulletin? 

  • Judging by what comes out of the White House almost hourly, the USA has significantly upped its game in terms of communicating with fellow Americans, and their Healthcare and Pharmaceutical sectors are collaborating in a positive way, as they try to “flatten the curve” by limiting infection at the outset, rather than play catch-up down the line. 
  • Covid-19 is now present in all 50 US States. 
  • Since Wednesday, Covid-19 cases in RSA have jumped from 116 to 150, at the time of preparing this Bulletin. By the time that you read it, it will be much higher, over 200. It will now escalate exponentially, as it has done everywhere else. 
  • Under new SA government regulations, no one within the country is allowed to refuse testing or treatment for coronavirus. 
  • The new regulations also place a ban on alcohol sales at clubs, pubs, restaurants and liquor stores between 6pm and 9am Monday and Saturday, and after 1pm on Sundays and public holidays.
  • The Zion Christian Church announced that all its events related to its annual pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo have been cancelled. The Methodist Church had also announced the cancellation of Easter events, and the Muslim organisations have announced the cancellation of Friday prayers 
  • Judging by the brief remarks made by the Eastern Cape Health MEC on AlgoaFM this morning, little confidence was engendered that our Province, and its two Metros, is anywhere near ready for the flood of testing to be done, or for isolation of those infected. Watch this space .
  • Yesterday the residents of CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters were treated to a wonderful lunchtime braai. Today it’s the turn of Epworth Close to be spoilt. In the midst of a storm there will always be a rainbow; we must just look out for them ;-) 
  • The gremlin which confused the numbering of our Bulletins has been dealt with. They are now correctly headed, and filed! 


Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman
 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link.  


COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #05     18 MARCH 2020

First, the good news: residents are not going to be bombarded with “Breaking News” bulletins on a daily basis!! Right now, clear and regular communication is essential, as it helps to avoid confusion and unhelpful rumours, reduces negativity and ignorance around the virus, it records MHA’s decisions affecting your lives, and will help in coping with the unknown. 

In the letter dated 16 March 2020 we made mention of a Support Centre being established. Manpower constraints dictate that, at this stage, we can only set it up as an e-mail resource; we can’t set up a “call centre”, and we don’t believe that there would be a demand for one. 

The Support Centre is operational. The e-mail address is covid.concern@methomes.co.za. Please voice your concerns and questions with that tool. However, please refrain from reporting that you can’t get toilet paper or hand sanitizer from your local Spar! 

You are requested to type in your surname followed by your village address in the Subject line of the e-mail (eg. Smith 33 Irvine Villa). If you are not a resident (eg. a family member), please type in “on behalf of” before the surname, in the Subject line. 

Two new bits of news: 

1. The revision of our Infection Control policy is complete, and every staff member is aware of its contents and requirements. Monitoring is key, and is being done 

2. CovidCom has co-opted Dr Steve Meihuizen as a consultant. He practised as a GP in Uitenhage for 35 years before retiring, and he will bring a wealth of practical medical knowledge and wisdom to the Committee. He will first assist us in sharing some simple but practical steps which we can all implement to mitigate the risk of the virus. We look forward to his input. By the way, Dr Meihuizen and his wife are recent arrivals as residents at Wesley Gardens! 

Those of you who are Herald subscribers may have read a wonderful “wake-up call” article in today’s edition, written by journalist Tom Eaton. I share the following edited extracts with you: 

  • This (the Coronavirus) thrives on confrontation. What is required of us is guerrilla warfare; a scorched-earth, fighting retreat 
  • In the coming weeks/months, each one of us must become a fighter in the resistance; we must set fire to its path, fight for every city, every block, every home 
  • If many of us are going to get this thing (the virus), we cannot get it at the same time 
  • Young and healthy South Africans must fight for those who are elderly or immune-compromised, citizens who already live up against hard, unyielding medical realities that give them no room for negotiation 
  • South Africans with more money and more choices must fight for the millions whose poverty leaves them uniquely exposed; compatriots who can’t self-isolate or work from home; who can’t stockpile groceries; who must, for as long as they can, stand in queues and then crowd into taxis and buses to avoid becoming destitute 
  • A pandemic is an exponential event, which means we must push hardest now, at the start of the curve 
  • Every hour you spend at home rather than with friends is a thousand jobs preserved once the pandemic retreats 
  • As we pull back into our homes we will inevitably spend more time online, which means we will find ourselves adrift in a toxic soup of misinformation, disinformation and outright conspiracy theory. Just as we wash our hands, we must scrub our social media and sanitize our contact with the internet (and avoid gossip) 
  • More importantly, we must politely disregard those who are telling us that a global lockdown is an overreaction. The most certain way to be overrun by a virus is to wait until you’re sure you’re not overreacting 
  • Domestic workers are seeing their livelihoods evaporate. Soon it will be anyone who works in a bar, restaurant or hotel 
  • Last week was an age ago. Next week, things will look unrecognisably different. The numbers will start looking fairly frightening quite soon (in SA, 11 cases a week ago, 116 today) 
  • But have courage. Keep fighting. Because this will end. And if we contest every inch, we will help end it sooner than later 
  • Wash your hands. Self-isolate. Give the virus nothing 


(MHA acknowledges the author Tom Eaton/an Arena Group journalist) 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the covid.concern@methomes.co.za link. 


COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #04     17 MARCH 2020

Download the PDF version of this bulletin.

Even though the authorities tell us that there hasn’t been a detected case of Coronavirus in our Province yet, it could only be a member of the Flat Earth Society who would predict that the pandemic will bypass the Eastern Cape, or our City, or MHA. It’s on its way; we just don’t know where or when.

 The CovidCom team and MHA’s wonderful staff are literally working around the clock to be prepared as best we can. In line with what is being done across the globe, and in accordance with best practice initiatives recommended by the WHO, our government and other authoritative bodies, CovidCom has decided that the following drastic but absolutely necessary measures will be introduced:

  1. Total Lockdown of CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters will take place. This entails the following:
  • No resident may leave any of these facilities, unless for emergency medical attention
  • No visitors (including residents from cottages) will be allowed to enter (exceptions will be made on compassionate grounds, by prior arrangement)
  • No delivery person will be allowed to enter any of these facilities; drop-off and pick-up will occur in parking areas, and will be controlled by staff members at the entrance to CPB
  • These steps apply to Bedsitter residents as well
  • The Hairdresser service will continue on the upper floor of Bedsitters, for the time being, and will be restricted to Bedsitter and Frail Care residents only
  • For the foreseeable future, breakfast and supper meals will be offered to Bedsitter residents, if desired, in addition to the existing provision of lunch. This will be at MHA’s cost
  • The pedestrian gate between CP Bradfield and Cassia Gardens will be closed
  • The lockdown will commence at 08h00 on Friday, 20 March 2020
  1. Thursday, 19 March 2020 will be the last MHA  bus transport for residents (Bedsitters, Epworth Close and all villages) to shopping centres, or for outings
  2. Should MHA experience an outbreak of the virus, a dedicated facility is now being prepared to serve as an isolation area
  3. Our Independent Living villages:
  • Lockdown of all community centres including libraries and hairdressing salons will occur; NO entrance to any of these facilities will be permitted as from after Thursday 19 March 2020
  • Blood pressure visits by Matron Sanet Marx are cancelled with immediate effect (individuals will still be visited)
  • The Domestic Housekeeping service is suspended after Thursday 19 March 2020
  • No external domestic housekeepers or gardeners will be allowed onto the premises after Thursday 19 March 2020. Residents so affected must notify their service providers
  • Special arrangements will be made for private Care Workers. Any resident who makes use of such a service must obtain written approval from Head Office to continue their service
  • Residents should refrain from visiting Managers in their office. Please make use of phones (mobile or landline) or e-mail to communicate
  • Only emergency maintenance will be done
  • The painting team will continue their work  on the exterior of all buildings

 

Please rest assured that CovidCom will regularly review the steps which are going to be implemented by week-end. We are adopting a “belt and braces” approach to the threats coming our way, because we see it as best practice right now, based on the globally sourced information before us.

 If ever there was a time for the citizens of this world to unite in love, support, disciplined behaviour and positivity, it is now. The Board and Management of MHA ask for your understanding and your support as we continue to cope with the unknown. CovidCom, the Board and all the staff of MHA are learning on a daily basis.

  I used a cruise liner analogy at yesterday’s CovidCom meeting. The good ship MHA has a competent group of Officers (CovidCom, the Board and the Managers) on the bridge and at the wheel; we have a cohesive and well trained crew of 112 (our staff), and we are dedicated to looking after the welfare of about 570 passengers (our residents across MHA). We are fully aware of the dangerous storm ahead of us (Coronavirus), but we cannot avoid it, and so we must do everything in our power to mitigate the risks, limit the damage, and have plans in place to protect the lives of all on board. We cannot and will not be complacent.

 Keep well, avoid crowded places, practice hand hygiene during all your waking hours, and love your neighbours by watching out for them.

Malcolm Stewart
CovidCom Chairman

Please remember: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives: Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 


COVID-19 BREAKING NEWS #03

Monday 16 March 2020, Notice to all residents (M Stewart, COVIDCom Chairman)

Clickhere to download the PDF letter from the Chairman.

 CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) 

You will all know something about this subject, whether a little or a lot. We wish to put it into context by sharing some insights and information with you. 

In the past few weeks the entire world has been turned upside down, on an unprecedented scale probably not witnessed since the outbreak of the Second World War. The Coronavirus pandemic (referred to as COVID-19) is manifesting itself across the globe; in some or other way the disease and its economic consequences and social impact will adversely affect the majority of the 7.8 billion people who live on this planet, and many will die as a result. There is no point in hiding the truth………read more.



COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #02

Monday 16 March 2020, Notice to all residents (M Stewart, COVIDCom Chairman)

As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives: Covid-19 drop-down folder. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed.

Monday 16 March 2020 was another busy day for the CovidCom. We met with those Nursing Management and Complex Managers who were available to meet at short notice. Many issues had to be addressed, and many decisions had to be taken, to keep abreast of the scenario which we knew would change by the hour. Unfortunately our work is already being hampered by a handful of residents who spread rumours, try to second-guess what might happen next inside and outside of MHA, or who just enjoy interfering. Please allow CovidCom and MHA’s competent Managers and other staff to get on with the job of doing the best they can to ensure everyone’s safety, to mitigate the many risks, to minimise disruption, and to avoid any form of panic or resentment setting in. This is uncharted territory for all of us, so let us work together!

As mentioned in yesterday’s letter, we have established an e-mail link to enable residents, relatives and anyone else to communicate with MHA. The e-mail address which must be used is covid.concern@methomes.co.za. CovidCom will endeavour to respond to all e-mails received with the absolute minimum of delay possible. Please try not to make phone contact with CovidCom members or Complex Managers regarding any COVID-19 matters, unless really urgent.

On Tuesday 17 March further bulletins will be issued, which will spell out some changes which will come into force. A decision was made at today’s meeting that all bulletins and related documents will be placed on our website and a hard copy distributed to everyone in our Villages, Bedsitters, in CP Bradfield Frail Care, and to all staff.



COVID-19 BREAKING NEWS #01

Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Ramaphosa announced:

1. National state of disaster declared . Rapid effective response system
2. Limit contact with infected
3. Travel ban on foreigners from high risk countries as of 18th March. Visas cancelled.
4. SA residents to avoid travel to high risk countries. 
5. Travel alerts will b issued based in risk level.
6. SA citizens returning from high risk area self quarantine.
7. Medium risk country travel to b subjected to testing.
8. 72 ports of entry . 35 to be shut down. 2 Sea port to be closed.
9. Domestic travel discouraged. 
10. Gathering of more than 100 prohibited.
11. Small gathering organizer must have a plan. 
12. Schools to close on Wed till after Easter holidays.
13. Tertiary institutions to b consulted. 
14. All businesses to ensure they intensify measure re hygiene control. 
15. Shopping malls to ensure hygiene control measures.
16. Increase capacity of hospitals.
17. Monitoring system.
18. Mass campaign to educate. 
18. Minimize physical contact.
19. Funding available to  reinforce the systems inttoduced.
20. National Command Council to meet 3 x per week.

END