Empowering her local community and taxi commuters with an understanding about how COVID-19 spreads and how this can be prevented, has become the mission of Sr Sharilyn Goliath, a theatre nurse at Netcare Greenacres Hospital, who was recently recognised in a local radio station competition for her caring and meaningful contribution to fighting the spread of the disease within local communities.
“When people have insight into what COVID-19 is and the various ways in which it can spread, they are empowered to better protect themselves by following the COVID-19 precautions correctly,” Sr Goliath says.
“Four of us healthcare workers got together, and with donations from local businesses and the good people of Port Elizabeth, we have been distributing sanitisers and masks to the community. Education is one of the most powerful tools for community health, and we saw a great need to fill the gaps in the understanding of COVID-19 to help prevent transmission through people’s daily activities,” she explains.
Sr Goliath is assisted in her community outreach initiatives by two of her nursing colleagues from the hospital, Sr Aimee Morris and Sr Anchen Goliath, who is not related to Sr Sharilyn Goliath although they share the same surname, and a paramedic from the State emergency medical services. She explains that their endeavour began as an extension of her involvement in a soup kitchen programme in Helenvale, Port Elizabeth, where she grew up.
Caption: Sr Sharilyn Goliath, a theatre nurse at Netcare Greenacres Hospital, urges the public to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Sr Goliath was recently recognised in a local radio station competition for her caring and meaningful contribution to fighting the spread of the disease within communities in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape.
“We would see children coming to the soup kitchen for food, but they didn’t have masks to wear. We arranged for local women in the community to sew face masks, which we then donated to the communities, and this helped to create some income for the women too.
“We realised that many people do not understand why it is important for everyone to wear a mask in public, and so we started quite casually explaining the principles behind COVID-19 prevention measures, and this seemed to help change people’s behaviour.”
Ever since, the four health crusaders have been sharing their healthcare knowledge, speaking to schools and communities to build understanding about hygiene, physical distancing and the need to wear masks.
“We had the opportunity to be part of an initiative by the COVID-19 Relief Centre, the Eastern Cape Department of Health and Nelson Mandela Bay Disaster Management to educate taxi commuters, drivers and conductors on COVID-19 prevention. We handed out masks and sanitisers and explained the importance of keeping windows open for ventilation and following all the precautions at all times because of the contagious nature of the virus and its really serious health implications,” Sr Goliath says.
Sr Goliath was recently nominated as one of the winners of an Algoa FM competition as part of the Adcock Ingram OTC Winter radio campaign that commenced in June 2020. “I was absolutely surprised and delighted, and since I was interviewed on the radio, more people and local businesses have heard about what we are doing and are coming forward wanting to participate,” she says.
General manager of Netcare Greenacres Hospital, Andre Bothma, commended Srs Sharilyn and Anchen Goliath and Sr Morris for the caring they are demonstrating outside of their nursing duties. “We are deeply humbled at their proactive approach in starting this excellent community-spirited initiative in their spare time. Their work is certain to make a big difference in the public’s understanding of COVID-19, and this knowledge is power for preventing transmission.”
Sr Goliath says her message to the wider public is to not underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19.
“Please obey the rules and do what you are supposed to do, because as nurses we see first-hand how bad this illness really can be. In these difficult times, love your family and appreciate every good thing you have, and please do everything possible to protect yourself and others,” Sr Goliath concluded.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare Greenacres Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
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