The Wits Paediatric Fund’s new resource app aims to help healthcare workers navigate the stresses, anxiety and uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic 

The Wits Paediatric Fund (WPF) personal protective equipment (PPE) taskforce released a new resource app on Friday, July 24, in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Known as the Paediatric Protective Pillars (PPP), the  app aims to assist by provide healthcare workers with psychological assistance through curated materials and resources. 

The taskforce’s initially aim was to better equip frontline staff members in the covid-19 response by purchasing physical PPE and equipmentThis focus was broadened, however, as it was seen that physical protection was not all that was requiredaccording to WPF deputy chair and WPF PPE taskforce chair, Dr Shaegan Irusen.    

The taskforce has since explored a variety of avenues to look after staff holistically and assist with mental health challenges that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic, said Irusen. 

Dr Mehnaaz Patel, member of the taskforce who is currently based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, told Wits Vuvuzela, “As doctors we are notoriously bad at asking for help and with covid-19; we have seen an increased risk of burnout. We know that we cannot serve our patients if we do not take care of ourselves. We hope that by making these resources so readily available we can normalise asking for help and create safe spaces for our teams.”

Professor Ashraf Coovadia, chair of the Taskforce and head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Wits, said in a video guide to the app, “We believe that (healthcare) providers need, among many things, ready access to resources and support systems. We aim to provide this through this portal.”  

This resource has helped Irusen, who is also a paediatric nephrologist at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, by making the tools he needs easily and quickly available.  

Irusen said uncertainty and unease had grown as the pandemic had developed. ‘’This, however, has been ameliorated through the provision of tools and resources to staff members,” he told Wits Vuvuzela. 

“Mental health challenges are something that many of us deal with,’’ he added. ‘’It has been important to realise that there are support mechanisms available should an individual need assistance. Staff members are not alone and help is available, whether in group settings or in personal, one-on-one encounters,  said Irusen. 

The app was created within the Ignite Event Launcher app and consists of four pillars, namely the Training, Guidelines, SOS and Support pillars. These categories contain multiple resources and guidelines to aid in the management of covid-19 patients. They also provide contact details of senior physicians from different hospitals if a user requires a debriefing and links to mental healthcare providers should psychological assistance be needed. As of July 23, the app has been downloaded 257 times, has 238 active users and 4519 total views.

On the growth of the app, Irusen said, We are also developing the app to include more resources as the need develops. This is a dynamic resource that is updated regularly and developed in response to the pandemic and the needs of healthcare workers.  

FEATURED IMAGE: The Paediatric Protective Pillars (PPP) resource app can be accessed via the Ignite Event Launcher app on the App Store and Google Play Store. Photo: Zainab Patel.