Original Research

Reorganisation of primary care services during COVID-19 in the Western Cape, South Africa: Perspectives of primary care nurses

Talitha Crowley, Danine Kitshoff, Frances de Lange-Cloete, Justine Baron, Santel de Lange, Cornelle Young, Tonya Esterhuizen, Ian Couper
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 4| a5358 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5358 | © 2021 Talitha Crowley, Danine Kitshoff, Frances de Lange-Cloete, Baron Justine, de Lange Santel, Young Cornelle, Esterhuizen Tonya, Ian Couper | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2021 | Published: 24 November 2021

About the author(s)

Talitha Crowley, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Danine Kitshoff, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Frances de Lange-Cloete, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Justine Baron, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Santel de Lange, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Cornelle Young, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Tonya Esterhuizen, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Ian Couper, Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, Department of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Primary care nurses play a pivotal role in the response to disasters and pandemics. The coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic required preventative, diagnostic, and curative measures for persons presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 by healthcare providers, whilst continuing other essential services. We aimed to investigate the reorganisation of primary care services during COVID-19 from the perspectives of primary care nurses in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Methods: We administered an online survey with closed and open-ended questions to professional nurses enrolled for a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Nursing at Stellenbosch University (2020) and alumni (2017–2019) working in the Western Cape. Eighty-three participants completed the questionnaire.

Results: The majority of the participants (74.4%) reported that they were reorganising services using a multitude of initiatives in response to the diverse infrastructure, logistics and services of the various healthcare facilities. Despite this, 48.2% of the participants expressed concerns, which mainly related to possible non-adherence of patients with chronic conditions, the lack of promotive and preventative services, challenges with facility infrastructure, and staff time devoted to triage and screening. More than half of the participants (57.8%) indicated that other services were affected by COVID-19, whilst 44.6% indicated that these services were worse than before.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the very necessary reorganisation of services that took place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa enabled effective management of patients infected with COVID-19. However, the reorganisation of services may have longer-term consequences for primary care services in terms of lack of care for patients with other conditions, as well as preventive and promotive care.


Keywords

COVID-19; nurses; primary health care; services reorganisation; consequences of reorganisation

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