MOBILE HEALTH UNIT CONTINUES TO DELIVER ESSENTIAL CARE TO RURAL FARM WORKERS AMIDST PANDEMIC
The mobile healthcare unit, which traverses rural farming areas in the Eastern Cape, is staffed by two remarkable healthcare workers. Together they provide primary health services to the isolated farms in Bedford and Adelaide, caring for workers across over 60 farms, totalling over 1000 patients each quarter.
The aim of the mobile clinic, which launched in 2018, is to alleviate stress, travel time and costs to community members, while ensuring that they receive the healthcare and medication they need. During COVID-19 the need for this service has escalated and intensified, while hospitals struggle under the added pressure brought on by the pandemic.
This project, a joint effort between Cookhouse Wind Farm and the Department of Health makes a strong case for Public Private Partnerships, which Cookhouse Wind Farm has carved a reputation for.
“The heroes of this mobile unit are without a doubt Ms Gcobisa Bevu and Mr Mzi Myeki, who have a combined 42 years’ experience behind them and are a dedicated team that tirelessly travel to remote farming areas,” explains Tshepo Kgoloane, Community Operations Manager for Cookhouse Wind Farm.
Ms Gcobisa Bevu has been with the project since its inception in 2018 while Mr Meyki, a veteran of 36 years in the field, joined the team towards the latter part of 2020. A typical day for the duo involves examination of vital signs, infection control, family planning, observation of COVID-19 protocols, and treatment of chronic illnesses, among other things.
The team has been directly impacted by the current health pandemic and speak of the high levels of anxiety, given the novelty of the virus as well as the shortage and unavailability of PPE material. There was a temporary halt to the service but adjustments to the programme were made to make it accommodate the current challenges.
The mobile unit has managed to carry out COVID testing in addition to administering screening to patients before treating them.
Tshepo Kgoloane, tells of his vision to reduce the need for patients to travel long distances to their nearest town, which will ultimately relieve stress on many levels, beginning with members of communities, as quality healthcare can now be accessed within their immediate surroundings.
“The mobile unit is very popular both with farmers and their labourers because it is a win-win situation, owners no longer have to ferry their workers to town for medical care as that side is taken care of by the mobile clinic, which brings the service on their door step. On the other hand, workers no longer have to take a day off work to take their treatment, meaning their wages go to other essentials. Such has been the success of the programme that the number of farms being serviced now has shot up to 63 from the 46 that it was at the beginning of the project a mere 3 years ago. This is a 73% increase in terms of serviced farms,” concluded Kgoloane.
Cookhouse Wind Farm’s Primary Healthcare Flagship Initiative is a high impact pilot initiative, which has invested millions into beneficiary towns, with the aim of supporting quality primary healthcare through resourcing of public clinics.