Home Fleetwatch 2020 Netcare launches Family Connect Line to keep COVID-19 patients and their loved...

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

The new Netcare Family Connect Line will enable next-of-kin to be informed on the status of their loved ones who have been hospitalised with COVID-19. Also, where possible, to facilitate direct communication between patients and their families.

This story is not directly linked to trucks. Rather, it is aimed at the many people in our industry who are experiencing the pain of separation from their loved one who are hospitalised through Covid-19. And as the days pass, there are more and more from our industry who are experiencing this.

When one strips away the more obvious impacts of Covid-19 on our lives such as business closures, unemployment, financial hardships, the worst has to be the total emotional devastation when a loved one is taken to hospital where he or she remains – scared and alone – perhaps never to emerge again. And not one family member or loved one can visit just to hold that person’s hand.

Up to now, such a situation has been the ultimate in family loneliness and isolation and it is to help alleviate this pain that Netcare has come up with a plan to put loved ones in touch with each other through the launch of a National Family Connect dedicated support line to keep next-of-kin informed on the status of their loved ones who have been hospitalised with COVID-19. Also, where possible, to facilitate direct communication between patients and their families.

To achieve this, Netcare has dedicated Netcare personnel deployed as liaison between patients and their next-of-kin. 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 our 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 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 explains.

“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.”

The number for the Netcare Family Connect Line is 0800 111 266. It will be operational weekdays from 08:00 to 18:00 and weekends from 08:00 to 17:00.

The Netcare Family Connect Line service enables patients’ next-of-kin to connect with one of the 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 January, 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,” says Dr Friedland.

FleetWatch salutes Netcare on this superb service where the human touch has been introduced in an era when no touching is allowed. It’s all about the matters of the heart and we love that. Perhaps all other hospital groups – private and Government – can emulate this.

Here’s how to use the Family Connect line
1. Phone 0800 111 266 during the Netcare Family Connect Line’s operating hours: Mondays to Fridays, 08:00 to 18:00 and Saturdays and Sundays, 08:00 to 17:00.
2. Provide the call centre professional with the patient’s case number, which will enable them to immediately identify the patient and the hospital where he or she is being cared for, as well as with your name and surname. This case number is sent via sms to patients admitted to hospital as from Monday, 18 January 2021 as well as to those listed as their next-of-kin.
3. Should you not have the patient’s case number, the following information will be required: Patient’s name and surname; Patient’s ID number; Hospital where the patient is being cared for; Date of the patient’s admission; your name and surname.
4. The call centre professional will relay your enquiry to a dedicated Netcare representative – either a social worker or patient liaison officer – at the hospital where the patient is cared for, who will confirm with the patient that we may disclose information on their status to you.
5. The dedicated Netcare representative will contact you telephonically within hours, with information on your loved one’s status. In cases where the representative cannot facilitate direct contact between the patient and family, they will also relay any messages to and from the patient and family, and will continue to update you on the patient’s status on a daily basis during their hospital stay.

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