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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046


BALTON, Sadna; VALLABHJEE, Annika L.  and  PILLAY, Stephanie C.. When uncertainty becomes the norm: The Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital's Speech Therapy and Audiology Department's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2022, vol.69, n.2, pp.1-11. ISSN 2225-4765.

BACKGROUND: In March 2020 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. Management of this pandemic had significant implications for clinical departments across the world. Healthcare systems were urgently required to reorganise and redesign patient care as well as repurpose staff OBJECTIVES: We will share the lived experience of our response as speech therapy and audiology (STA) clinicians to the COVID-19 pandemic METHOD: This study adopted an autoethnographic approach within Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model to describe STA clinicians' response to the COVID-19 pandemic RESULTS: Adaptations to practice were made to continue service provision whilst adhering to COVID-19 regulations. We assisted in other areas to meet the immediate needs of the hospital. Service delivery strategies consisted of a review of clinical and quality assurance protocols. We developed a telehealth service package which included a hybrid approach, within a context of digital poverty. We created resources to ensure continuity of care. Collaboration within our systems facilitated innovative solutions. Mental health and well-being of staff members were key to the response developed CONCLUSION: South African healthcare systems' inequalities were highlighted by the pandemic. The response showed that the needs of vulnerable populations were not accounted for when developing this public health response. Lessons learnt included the importance of adaptability, becoming comfortable with uncertainty and maintaining open and transparent communication. Consultation and collaboration within various levels of our healthcare system were critical in responding to the needs of patients. Commitment to compassionate leadership and staff well-being were crucial

Keywords : COVID-19; adaptations; autoethnography; bioecological framework; collaboration; microsystem; Speech Therapy and Audiology; South Africa; solutions; telehealth; well-being.

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