The Critical Care Society of Southern Africa (CCSSA) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to delivering appropriate, quality care to the critically ill.
Founded in 1970, the CCSSA represents doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners working in the field of critical care medicine. Affiliated societies, such as the South African Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (SASPEN) and the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Physiotherapy Group (CPRG), as well as special interest groups, such as ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) are also represented and supported by the Society.
The CCSSA provides professional development; research; guidelines; protocols; accreditation; training; conferences and seminars to its members.
Patient advocacy is an integral focus of the Society and to this end, information and resources are made available to patients and their families on all aspects of critical care and ICU.
The CCSSA is administered by volunteers from the professional community.
I see you.
I see the RN who has worked 7 days in a row and is willing to continue because the patients need her and she won't allow her colleagues to suffer being short staffed.
I see the cleaners dressed in full PPE thoroughly decontaminating room after room, from roof to floor to ensure it is safe for the next patients coming into those beds and rooms. You can see the sweat dripping from their brows as they meet the demands placed on them.
I see Unit Managers who work on the floor caring for patients and still diligently ensure that other functions continue so that the unit and team has what they need.
I see our doctors standing at a patient’s bedside deliberating over the best possible course of action hoping that the patient’s condition will turn and that they will begin responding to treatment. I hear them gently explaining to a patient that their only chance of survival is to go onto the ventilator. I hear them facilitating a video call between a patient and his wife and I overhear how the husband tells his wife how tired he is, but how he will keep fighting. I watch the team choking back tears and continuing with the endless activities needed to care for these patients. A while later I hear the same doctor speaking on the phone to another patient’s wife and breaking bad news to her.
I see the doctors who assist nurses with traditionally nursing activities such as mixing IVs, turning and washing patients or readying equipment. I see HCPs from theatre helping their colleagues in the wards and ICUs.
I see the people that volunteer to come into ICU to prone a patient – as it needs 6-8 people to turn a critically ill ventilated patient onto their tummy rapidly and safely.
I see the physiotherapists going above and beyond.
I see how hospital management team members have aged – concerned about the health and wellbeing of their staff; concerned about sufficient staffing, equipment and stock; concerned about the community the hospital serves as case numbers spike.
I see our staff at access control points to the hospital screening each and every person who enters the hospital – gently reminding them to wear their mask at all times over their mouth and nose and to clean their hands. I’ve heard them being the recipients of frustrated people who are annoyed at the restrictions that are in place.
I see the nurses and doctors who have volunteered to work as the patient numbers have surged and capacity has been exceeded – people who worked a full night after doing their normal day job.
I see my colleagues that have been doing this since the onset of the pandemic. The ones who tirelessly arrive to work shift after shift despite being weary – both physically and emotionally. The sustained commitment is beyond belief.
I see and feel your heartache everytime you lose someone. And your extreme heartache in losing a colleague yesterday.
Please know that your service to humanity is not unseen and that I think you are incredible. Hang in there. We will get through this.
Written by Yolanda Walsh, a CCSSA member, crit care nurse, now working in ICU again and at the same time trying to assist with running the hospital as deputy nursing manager, (her real job).