City company donates masks to Frere Hospital

An East London company has done its bit to help doctors in the city fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson’s Auto Body has donated masks worth R40,000 to Frere Hospital as the fight against the spread of Covid-19 intensifies.

COMMUNITY FEELING: Eric and Renee Johnson of Johnson’s Auto Body donated 720 FFP2 masks to Frere Hospital in an effort to assist doctors and healthcare workers to protect themselves in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: SUPPLIED Image: SUPPLIED

Provincial health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe has instructed district managers and all CEOs of hospitals to implement the directive for all health workers to wear surgical masks at all times.

In the circular that Mbengashe sent out on Friday, he said:

  • All health workers (including admin staff, porters, general assistants, cleaners and every other category) in health facilities must wear a surgical mask at all times;
  • All health professionals and frontline staff who are managing patients at health facilities must wear a surgical mask, gloves and an apron; and
  • All health professionals and staff who treat Covid-19 positive patients at health facilities and transporting a known Covid-19 patient must wear an N95 mask, disposable gown, gloves and eye protection goggles.

“These measures must be implemented with immediate effect,” he instructed.

While provincial health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said there was no shortage of masks at their facilities at the moment, the donation of FFP2 masks to Frere is expected to go a long way in helping with the fight against the global pandemic.

The company is owned by Eric and Renee Johnson, who donated their stock to the hospital after their son, Brad Johnson, alerted them to a Facebook post calling for help.

“My parents own a car repair shop and when my girlfriend saw a Facebook post from a doctor friend calling for donations of masks I immediately called my folks,” said Brad.

“They had masks in the shop which are usually used to help protect workers doing paint jobs on cars. They’re also used in saw mills. They are very similar to the N95 masks needed by doctors.”

Ready to help, Eric and Renee donated a total of 720 masks.

Doctor Nils von Delft, who called for donations and assistance via the iCanHelp Facebook page, received the masks, which are to be distributed to health care workers at the hospital.

Stressing he was speaking in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the health department, Von Delft, said while there was still stock of N95 masks available, there was no way of knowing how many would be needed in the days, weeks and months to come.

“Around the world hospitals and suppliers are running out of stock and we just want to be prepared should that happen,” said Von Delft, a registrar anaesthetist at Frere Hospital.

“With the increase in positive cases the demand for masks is growing and we need to ensure our healthcare workers are protected. They won’t be able to help patients if they get sick themselves so we’re trying to take measures in anticipation of what may come.”

He said because of their similarity to the N95 masks, the FFP2 masks could be used by frontline healthcare workers who came in close contact with Covid-19 positive patients.

“The N95 masks filter 95% of most aerosols you breathe in and offer better protection from bigger droplets in the air when in close contact with patients. For example, the N95 and FFP2 type masks are used when we need to intubate a patient and get up close and personal,” Von Delft explained.

Renee said: “We are just happy that we had the masks and were able to assist. In times like these we need to pull together as a community and look out for each other.”

By Madeleine Chaput – DispatchLIVE

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