'I feel like going on duty is suicidal': nurses share emotional strain of Covid-19

By 11:40 Tue, 12 May 2020 Comments


Sylvia Rosseaw, who is known to her friends and family as Silla, has been working as a nurse for the past 37 years. Sylvia Rosseaw, who is known to her friends and family as Silla, has been working as a nurse for the past 37 years.


Image: Supplied

As health workers celebrate International Nurses' Day, the fight to defeat Covid-19 comes with emotional strain and has highlighted how vulnerable SA’s front-line workers really are.

“Covid-19 changed my entire life in a blink of an eye. I've always known that we will work with different types of contagious diseases, but not in my wildest dreams have I experienced such fears and anxiety as now,” Sylvia Rosseaw told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.

Rosseaw, known to her friends and family as Silla, has worked as a nurse for the past 37 years. “Nursing is a calling and it has also been one of my biggest passions to help sick people get better,” the 55-year-old said.

Rosseaw works at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in the Eastern Cape.

She said when arriving home after a shift at the hospital, she first has to “decontaminate herself”.  

“I can’t hug or kiss my loved ones and I fear for my friends, family and also myself. We are sometimes so tired and then I get emotional and find myself crying or at times moody and then my family suffers.

“I sometimes just wish that we can wake up from this 2020 nightmare.”

Rosseaw said she remained hopeful that the country would overcome the pandemic.

“We place our hope in the Lord. My prayer is that every nurse not get discouraged by the Covid-19 pandemic, because I believe that we can win this battle.”

Rozeldè Louw works at the Manne Dipico Hospital in Colesberg in the Northern Cape. Rozeldè Louw works at the Manne Dipico Hospital in Colesberg in the Northern Cape.
Image: Supplied

Rozeldè Louw’s biggest fear is contracting the virus while treating a patient.

Louw works at the Manne Dipico Hospital in Colesberg in the Northern Cape.

“To be honest, I am really scared I contract the virus. I also fear of having to quarantine at home where I would also put my family at risk of contracting the disease.

“It’s extremely stressful and it feels like we as front-line workers have to be extra careful to ensure the safety of our families.

She said they also fear after one of their colleagues is tested for the virus.

“We always fear what the outcome of the results would be. When it comes back negative, you are relieved, but still wonder if the swabs were done correctly and the right procedures were followed.

“Our families are also worried because we as nurses are in direct contact with the patients and spend the most time with them.”

Embre Nelson who works at the Rosedale Clinic in Uitenhage said she had been a health- care worker for 30 years.

Embre Nelson finds hope in the number of people who recover. Embre Nelson finds hope in the number of people who recover.
Image: Supplied

“For the first time in my career I feel like going on duty is suicidal. The increasing numbers of infected Covid-19 cases scares me.

“ ... But I also find hope in the recovery numbers. My biggest dream is that scientists will come up with an effective vaccine soon,” Nelson said.

She said she finds some humour in her husband’s obsession with “disinfecting”.

“I wish you could see how many bottles of disinfectant he has in his car,” she quipped.

Nelson shared this message: “Happy nurses day to all my colleagues worldwide.

“To the communities, please stay at home.”


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