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Netcare launches Family Connect Line to keep COVID-19 patients and their loved ones connected

Netcare launched a dedicated support line on Monday, December 18 to keep next-of-kin informed on the status of their loved ones who have been hospitalised with COVID-19 and, where possible, to facilitate direct communication between patients and their families. This is in line with the healthcare group’s focus on placing each patient in hospital and their loved ones at the centre of the care provided to them.

“The significant surge in people with COVID-19 infections requiring hospitalisation has forced us to focus our attention primarily on optimising our clinical resources to provide the best and safest care possible for all patients,” says Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.

Unfortunately, as a result of the strain on their resources, communication with patients’ loved ones has at times been affected.

“We understand that the hospitalisation of a loved one can be very stressful and anxiety-provoking for the next-of-kin, especially during this time when, in order to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading in our hospitals, visitation has been suspended other than in exceptional cases.

“As a result and in an effort to improve communication, we have set up the Netcare Family Connect Line. This makes it possible for families to engage with dedicated personnel, mainly social workers who we deployed for this purpose, for information on the status of their loved ones admitted with COVID-19 to any of our Netcare hospitals countrywide, whilst enabling us to maintain patient confidentiality,” Dr Friedland explained.

“We understand how crucial it is for families to know how their loved ones in our care are doing, and this new service is dedicated to fulfilling this need,” Dr Friedland says.

The number for the Netcare Family Connect Line is 0800 111 266. It will be operational weekdays from 8am to 6pm and weekends from 8am to 5pm.

The Netcare Family Connect Line service enables patients’ next-of-kin to connect with a team of trained call centre professionals, who will facilitate the feedback process. A dedicated Netcare representative at the hospital where the patient is cared for will obtain information on the patient’s status, and will personally phone the family member to provide feedback.

Messages to and from the family and patient will also be relayed where direct communication between the family and patient is not possible. Feedback will be provided within hours of the first enquiry and thereafter on a daily basis.

Netcare has, since the start of the month, already recruited and deployed 30 social workers to support patients and their families in non-clinical patient liaison roles, which enables healthcare workers to focus solely on their clinical and nursing duties. Netcare hospitals are in the process of expanding the number of social workers to ensure that their services will continue over weekends too.

“Already, we are seeing the profound value that the social workers’ efforts have brought for families through facilitating better communication in these unprecedented times, and we believe that this telephonic support service will enhance connection between patients and their loved ones even further,” added Dr Friedland.

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