Tintswalo Hospital Takes Matters into own Hands to Get Rural Citizens Vaccinated
After a bumpy start, when COVID-19 vaccines finally began to rollout across the country, South Africans breathed a sigh of relief. However, while health experts expected there to be challenges around vaccination supplies, what was less expected was that primary healthcare hospitals in rural areas would largely be left to their own devices.
One such hospital, Tintswalo District Hospital (Tintswalo), a Mpumalanga-based primary care facility in Acornhoek, took matters into its own hands to help the local community get vaccinated thanks to healthcare professional volunteers.
Kim Craven, a medical professional from the United States, who volunteered at Tintswalo through the Tshemba Foundation, was inspired by how the hospital overcame the numerous challenges it was facing.
“As a district hospital, Tintswalo’s catchment area is large, and the hospital is extremely busy. A successful vaccine rollout is critical to ensuring that COVID-19 related hospitalisations are kept to a minimum,” says Craven. “This means that with limited resources, Tintswalo staff have needed to encourage and educate the local population to vaccinate, find inspired solutions that successfully separate infected inpatients from those who are not and screen every person who enters the facility. They’ve also needed to coordinate with outlying primary health clinics for similar protections within their spaces. It’s been a complex process that everyone at Tintswalo embraced.”
Craven’s high opinion of the resilience and creativity of Tintswalo’s team is matched by the enthusiasm that the staff of Tintswalo feel for the medical volunteer programme that backs their efforts.
“We are an under-resourced district with over-stretched staff,” says Dr Andries Maebela, former Senior Clinical Manager at Tintswalo. “Volunteers bring so much value to Tintswalo because of this – energy, enthusiasm, skills and expertise that they willingly share, even after they’ve left us. Whether a volunteer spends three days with us or a few weeks, they always leave their mark.”