Archive: COVID-19

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