Cape Town – Groote Schuur Hospital has become the first public sector hospital in the province to have its own Wellness Centre for staff.
The centre, which opened on Tuesday, aims to facilitate a holistic approach to wellness and includes a gym, yoga studio, meditation room, arts and craft room, massage chair room and training rooms.
Services will be available to the hospital’s 4 500 staff members during office hours.
At the opening, staff came out to visit exhibitors promoting the six aspects of wellness: occupational, physical, environmental, social, spiritual and intellectual wellness. Services will include counselling or therapy, as well as self-defence classes.
Staff had the opportunity to participate in games and creative activities, or to buy books and treats. They also stood a chance to win prizes.
Nursing operational manager Jacqueline Dias said the pressures faced by hospital employees included staff shortages and the workload.
“(There is) pressure from doctors whose lists are overbooked. We get a lot of emergencies,” she said.
Public health medicines specialist and medical superintendent for theatre and ICU, Dr Shrikant Maurice Peters, said pressures that came to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic had always been there, but were taken to another level.
“There’s this concept of burnout in health-care workers globally, which is pronounced. Studies in South Africa have shown rates of burnout which include feelings of lack of effectiveness in your work, feelings of depersonalisation, not feeling connected to your work anymore, and that prevalence has been pegged at about 30 to 60% of all health-care workers suffering from some form of burnout.”
“Related to this was the concept of moral injury, where staff wanting to provide the best quality care to patients were unable to, due to working in an under-resourced system, Peters said.
While on a tour of the facility, and speaking to a self-defence practitioner, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said for some health-care practitioners the threat came from within the health-care system from patients who tried to assault or rob the staff trying to care for them.
The hospital would not disclose the cost of establishing the centre and its services.